Thailand Senate Legalises Same-Sex Marriage


Participants in the Pride march in Bangkok, Thailand (Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Shutterstock)

Thailand’s Prime Minister has applauded the final passage of a same-sex marriage bill by the Senate, setting the country on course to become the first in Southeast Asia to recognise same-sex couples.

The Senate passed the Thai Marriage Equality Act by 130 votes to 4, with 18 abstentions on Tuesday, after it was approved by the House of Representatives in March.

The bill will now be sent to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for his endorsement, which is seen as a formality. The law is expected to come into effect later this year.

The government backed the bill, a consolidated final version of four marriage equality bills approved by Parliament in December 2023.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin celebrated the passage of the legislation on social media, describing it as a milestone in the country’s history.

“I am proud of the collective effort of all stakeholders, which reiterates the power of ‘unity in diversity’ in Thai society,” he tweeted.

“We will continue our fight for social rights for all people, regardless of their status. As we celebrate today, we are proud to be a Pride Friendly Destination and look forward to bringing World Pride to Thailand in 2030,” Thavisin said.

The UN Human Rights Office for Asia said the bill’s passage was “historic” and marked “a significant step towards equality and inclusivity in Thailand and the region.”

Human Rights Watch asserted that the law would stand “as an example of LGBT rights progress across the Asia-Pacific region and the world,” but noted that Thailand still offers no protections for transgender people and that legal reforms for trans rights are much needed.

Once enacted, the bill will amend the Civil and Commercial Code by replacing the terms “men and women” and “husband and wife” with words like “individuals” and “marriage partners”. It will also allow married same-sex couples to adopt.

The new legislation changes references to “men”, “women”, “husbands”, and “wives” to gender-neutral terms such as “spouse” and “person”. Couples will have equal access to marriage and the same rights in areas including child adoption, healthcare consent, and inheritance.

When it comes into force, the law will make Thailand the third Asian nation to legalise same-sex marriage after Taiwan and Nepal, and the first in Southeast Asia. Thirty-seven countries around the world currently recognise same-sex marriage.

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