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Thailand: Lawmakers pass same-sex marriage bill

March 27, 2024

Thailand is on track to become Southeast Asia's first country to recognize same-sex unions. The bill, passed in the lower house, still needs Senate approval and the king's endorsement before it becomes law.

A person kisses another's cheeck as they take part in a symbolic wedding for LGBTQ+ couples on Valentine's Day at Siam Center on February 14, 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand has one of the most open LGBTQ+ communities in AsiaImage: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

Thailand's lower house of parliament passed on Wednesday a bill that would legalize same-sex unions in the country.

The text still needs the Senate's approval and the king's endorsement to become law.

Thailand one of the most open LGBTQ communities in Asia, but activists have said Thai conservative laws do not represent the community despite the changing social attitudes in the country.

Thailand one step away from legalizing same-sex marriage

What happened in parliament?

The bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of the 415 lawmakers present, with 10 votes against.

"We did this for all Thai people to reduce disparity in society and start creating equality," Danuphorn Punnakanta, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the draft bill, told lawmakers ahead of the reading.

"I want to invite you all to make history."

Almost all of Thailand's major parties supported the bill.

"Today society has proved to us that they care about LGBT rights," Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, a member of the progressive Move Forward Party which has pushed for LGBTQ rights, told the French AFP news agency.

"Now we finally we will have same rights as others."

Thailand moves closer to marriage equality

What happens next?

If passed, the bill would make Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. 

The bill scraps references to "men," "women," "husbands" and "wives" in favor of gender-neutral terms.

Despite Thailand's vibrant gay and transgender community, the Thai LGBTQ community lacks many rights reserved for legal partners.

The new law would grant same-sex couples the right to adopt children.

Several privileges would also be made available, such as tax deductions, medical consent for spouses, joint property management and inheritance rights.

Across Asia, only Taiwan and Nepal recognize same-sex marriage, with India's highest court deferring the decision to parliament in October.

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rmt/wmr (AFP, Reuters)