World NewsMain News

Thailand passes a historic bill legalising same-sex marriage

The proposed law will replace references to "men", "women", "husbands", and "wives" in the country's marriage law with gender-neutral terms

In a significant stride towards equality, Thailand’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill on Wednesday that could make the country the first in Southeast Asia to acknowledge same-sex marriage. Despite Thailand’s reputation as a safe haven for the global LGBTQ community, local activists have been fighting against deeply-rooted conservative attitudes for a long time.

The bill, which still requires the Senate’s approval and the king’s endorsement to become law, was passed in the lower house with a vote of 399 to 10. Chanya Rattanathada, 27, expressed her joy outside the voting chamber, stating that Thailand has finally achieved recognition as a true ‘haven for LGBTQI’. The final vote inside the chamber was met with applause and a few cheers, with a member waving a rainbow flag in celebration.

Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, an MP from the progressive Move Forward Party, which has been advocating for LGBTQ rights, said, “Today, society has shown us that they value LGBT rights. We will finally have the same rights as everyone else.”

The proposed law will replace references to “men”, “women”, “husbands”, and “wives” in the country’s marriage law with gender-neutral terms. Following the bill’s approval, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin expressed his pride on social media platform X, stating, “Today’s passing of this law in parliament is a proud moment for Thai society as we move towards social equality and respect for differences.”

In Asia, only Taiwan and Nepal currently recognize same-sex marriage. Last year, India’s supreme court deferred the decision to parliament, while Hong Kong’s highest court fell just short of granting full marriage rights.

Mookdapa Yangyuenpradorn, a spokesperson for the activist group Fortify Rights, called it a “massive leap for our country — the first in Southeast Asia.” She expressed optimism that the bill’s subsequent stages would proceed without a hitch, bringing Thailand up to international standards in terms of LGBT rights.

Image : The Hindu

Prime Minister’s unwavering support for the LGBTQ community

The vote came after a decision by Srettha’s cabinet last year to allow a parliamentary debate on the issue. The prime minister has been a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community, making marriage equality a key policy issue and stating last year that the change would bolster family structures.

After the vote, Pheu Thai party spokesperson Danuphorn Punnakanta praised the lower house’s decision, saying, “Today, Thailand has taken a step forward in ensuring equality for all.” He stressed that the law, which applies to “all Thai people,” would not infringe on the rights of heterosexual couples but would extend them to all relationships. “It’s a win-win situation,” he added.

Despite Thailand’s reputation for tolerance, the majority-Buddhist country remains largely conservative, and LGBTQ individuals, despite their visibility, continue to face obstacles and discrimination. Activists have been advocating for same-sex marriage rights for over a decade, but their efforts have often been thwarted by the country’s volatile political landscape.

In 2022, Thai lawmakers initially approved two bills allowing same-sex marriages and two others permitting civil partnerships. However, the legislation was shelved when parliament was dissolved to make way for a general election held last year.

Outside parliament, 18-year-old Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd expressed excitement about the new law as it neared final approval, saying, “We are happy.”

You might also be interested in – 60% married Indians are looking to swing, date outside of marriage: survey

Dr. Shubhangi Jha

Avid reader, infrequent writer, evolving

Related Articles

Back to top button