Metro Weekly

Thailand Moves Closer to Gay Marriage

Thailand's lower house parliament approved a bill to legalize marriage equality, bringing policy in line with public opinion.

Marchers at Bangkok Pride in Thailand. – Photo: Facebook

Thailand is one step closer to legalizing marriage equality after lawmakers in the country’s lower house of parliament voted to approve a bill permitting same-sex couples to wed.

The bill overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 400-10 in its final reading on March 27.

It now heads to the country’s Senate, where it must be approved, before finally having Thailand’s king sign off on the policy change. The law could be enacted as soon as 120 days after the king’s assent, reports Al Jazeera.

If the bill surmounts those obstacles, Thailand would become the third Asian country to legalize same-sex nuptials, following Taiwan and Nepal.

The bill changes references in current law from gender-specific terms like “man,” “woman,” husband,” and “wife” to gender-neutral terms. It grants surviving partners inheritance rights in the case of one partner’s death and allows same-sex couples the right to adopt.

“I want to invite you all to make history,” Danuphorn Punnakanta, the chairman of the parliamentary committee, said ahead of the vote. “We did this for all Thai people to reduce disparity in society and start creating equality.”

While Thailand is generally considered welcoming to the international LGBTQ community, activists historically have had little success convincing lawmakers to support the effort.

Despite some public polls showing near-universal support for same-sex marriage among the population, the fate of same-sex marriage remained uncertain after the progressive-leaning Move Forward party, which won the most seats in parliament in the 2023 election cycle, failed to negotiate a power-sharing agreement that would give it control of the legislative branch.

Instead, the center-right Pheu Thai party struck a power-sharing agreement with conservative and military-aligned political parties, putting a conservative-leaning government in charge.

However, Pheu Thai leaders had also promised to consider a marriage equality bill, and delivered on that promise in recent months, reports CNN.

In 2020, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that current laws only recognizing heterosexual marriage are unconstitutional. It also recommended that lawmakers pass legislation to recognize and protect the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

In December, the lower house of parliament approved the first readings of four different draft bills to legalize same-sex marriage, and directed a legislative committee to consolidate them into a single bill.

Nada Chaiyajit, a law lecturer at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, celebrated parliament’s passage of the bill, telling The New York Times, “This is the greatest victory. … This is not only about LGBTIQ, this is about everyone. Equality.”

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