Thailand surges towards marriage equality for same-sex couples

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

In a landmark moment for equality, Thailand‘s lawmakers have taken a giant leap towards embracing same-sex unions, passing not one but four groundbreaking bills on marriage equality in their initial reading.

With an overwhelming 360 to 10 majority and one abstention, the House of Representatives paved the way for Thailand to potentially become the first ASEAN nation to legally recognise same-sex marriage.

The government-drafted Marriage Equality Bill emerged victorious, along with three additional bills from civil society groups, Move Forward, and Democrat parties. This historic development sets the stage for the formation of a committee that will amalgamate these bills into a cohesive framework, with the government’s draft taking the lead. Anticipation looms as further debates and votes on the second and third readings are expected next year.

Should these bills receive the nod and royal assent, Thailand would proudly join the ranks of Asia’s torchbearers for equality, alongside Taiwan and Nepal, officially recognising same-sex marriage. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, a staunch supporter of marriage equality, declared that the first step towards change has begun via a post on X.

However, not everyone is celebrating this milestone. Rights activists argue that the country’s laws and institutions still lag behind evolving social attitudes, persisting in discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and same-sex couples. Last year’s similar draft laws failed to reach a conclusive vote before the session concluded.

Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsuthin clarified the government’s intentions.

“In principle, this draft law is for the amendment of some provisions in the civic codes to open the way for lovers, regardless of their gender, to engage and get married.”

In favour of the majority

The proposed amendments, aiming to redefine terms for gender equality and diversity, garnered considerable support during the hours-long parliamentary debate, reported Bangkok Post.

Somsak revealed the government’s survey results, indicating a staggering 96.6% public support for the draft bill, conducted between October 31 and November 14. He reassured that the government’s bill seeks to amend existing laws, not create new ones, to avoid conflicting with religious practices and beliefs, particularly those held by the Islamic community.

While Move Forward, Democrat, and civil society bills echo the call for equality, Sugarno Matha of the Prachachat Party MP for Yala stands in staunch opposition. Citing principles of Islam, Sugarno opposes all bills, raising concerns about their perceived conflict with religious tenets.

Bangkok NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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