'First in South-East Asia' Thailand parliament strongly supports legalizing same-sex marriage bill

Lawmakers vote overwhelmingly to make the first country in Southeast Asia to acknowledge same-sex unions.

Follow us:

Thailand's lower house of Parliament has taken a significant step towards inclusivity as lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a marriage equality bill on Wednesday. This move positions Thailand to become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise equal rights for marriage partners of any gender, marking a pivotal moment for LGBTQ rights in the region.

The bill successfully passed its final reading with an impressive approval rate of 400 out of 415 members of the House of Representatives present. Notably, 10 members voted against it, two abstained, and three did not vote on the matter.

While Thailand has long been known for its reputation of acceptance and inclusivity, the journey towards passing a marriage equality law has been arduous. The country's societal landscape reflects a mix of progressive values alongside deeply rooted conservative ideals. Despite this, members of the LGBTQ community continue to face discrimination in various aspects of daily life. The government and state agencies have historically upheld conservative views, posing challenges for advocates of gender equality in their efforts to drive legislative change.

The bill is now set to move to the Senate, where it is expected to receive approval as legislation rarely faces rejection after passing through the lower house. Following Senate approval, the bill will then proceed to the king for royal endorsement, making Thailand a trailblazer in Southeast Asia as the first country in the region to enact such a law, and the third in Asia after Taiwan and Nepal.

The proposed amendments within the bill involve altering the language in the Civil and Commercial Code from “men and women” and “husband and wife” to "individuals" and "marriage partners." This modification aims to grant LGBTQ couples full legal, financial, and medical rights, ensuring equal access to benefits previously restricted based on gender.

Danuphorn Punnakanta, spokesperson for the governing Pheu Thai party and president of the committee overseeing the marriage equality bill, emphasised in Parliament that the amendment is inclusive and serves "everyone in Thailand," irrespective of their gender identity. Punnakanta also reassured that the bill would not diminish any rights currently enjoyed by heterosexual couples.