Thailand Overwhelmingly OKs Same-Sex Marriage

Bill sailed through both houses in a first for Southeast Asia
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 18, 2024 11:49 AM CDT
Thailand Overwhelmingly OKs Same-Sex Marriage
Participants wave flags celebrating marriage equality in Bangkok on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thailand's Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, clearing the last legislative hurdle for the country to become the first in Southeast Asia to enact such a law. Thailand has a reputation for acceptance and inclusivity but has struggled for decades to pass a marriage equality law, reports the AP. Thai society largely holds conservative values, and members of the LGBTQ+ community say they face discrimination in everyday life. The government and state agencies are also historically conservative, and advocates for gender equality have had a hard time pushing lawmakers and civil servants to accept change.

Thailand will become the third place in Asia, after Taiwan and Nepal, to allow same-sex marriage. The marriage equality bill, which grants full legal, financial, and medical rights for marriage partners of any gender, sailed through the House of Representatives right before the previous parliamentary session concluded in April with the approval of 400 of the 415 members who were present. It passed its final reading in the Senate on Tuesday with the approval of 130 of the 152 members in attendance, with four voting against it and 18 abstaining. The bill now needs the pro forma endorsement of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, followed by its publication in the Government Gazette, which will set a date within 120 days when it becomes effective.

The legislation will amend the country's Civil and Commercial Code to replace gender-specific words such as "men and women" with gender-neutral words such as "individual." After the vote, Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, an 18-year-old who identifies as nonbinary, took the floor and thanked everyone who supported the legislation, calling it a "force of hope" that will help Thailand become more accepting of diversity. "Today, love trumps prejudice," Plaifah said. The government, confident of the bill's passage, announced several days ago it would host a celebration of the occasion later Tuesday at Government House. The ground in front of the main building was decorated with rainbow carpets, flags, and a giant balloon in the shape of two hands making a heart sign.

(More Thailand stories.)

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