Thailand moves closer to legalizing same-sex marriage as parliament passes landmark bill


Wednesday, March 27, 2024
 – Thailand’s parliament has approved a marriage equality bill, a landmark step that moves one of Asia’s most liberal countries closer to becoming its third territory to legalize same-sex unions.

The legislation was passed on Wednesday, March 27, by 400 of the 415 lawmakers present, with only 10 voting against it, and could see Thailand join Taiwan and Nepal in allowing same-sex unions.

“We did this for all Thai people to reduce disparity in society and start creating equality,” Danuphorn Punnakanta, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the draft bill, told lawmakers ahead of the reading.

“I want to invite you all to make history.”

The bill’s passage marks a significant step towards cementing Thailand’s position as one of Asia’s most liberal countries on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, with openness and progressive attitudes coexisting in society alongside traditional, conservative Buddhist values.

Thailand has long been a draw for same-sex couples, with a vibrant and visible LGBTQ social scene for locals and expatriates, and targeted campaigns to attract LGBTQ travelers.

But rights activists have long maintained its laws and institutions do not reflect changing social attitudes and still discriminate against LGBTQ people and same-sex couples.

The legislation passed on Wednesday is the consolidation of four different draft bills and recognizes marriage between two people regardless of gender, rather than a husband and wife as previously defined.

LGBTQ advocates who were on the parliamentary committee had during Wednesday’s debate pushed unsuccessfully for the terms “father” and “mother” to be changed to the gender-neutral “parent” in references to the family unit, to avoid complications in issues such as adoption.''

“I’m happy indeed but this isn’t a full marriage equality, it is only same-sex marriage,” Nada said. “The right to marriage has been granted but not the full right to family establishment.

“It is a shame that we didn’t go the full way.”

Nada Chaiyajit, an LGBTQ advocate and a law lecturer at Mae Fah Luang University, said the passing of the bill was a positive step but there were some unresolved issues.

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