Thailand to potentially legalize same-sex marriage

Thailand to potentially legalize same-sex marriage
Photo Source: UNFPA Thailand Head of Office, Siriluck Chiengwong, orange shirt in the middle, joined the Pride parade with the UNCT core team members in Bangkok, Thailand, by UNFPA Thailand, via UNFPA, June 2023


Nuno Daun

Southeast Asia & Pacific Team 

Global Human Rights Defense

On the 21st of November, the Thai cabinet passed an amendment to its civil code that would allow the legalization of same-sex marriage. A government deputy spokesperson stated that the amendment would modify the words “men and women” and “husband and wife” to “individuals” and “marriage partners” respectively, to allow same-sex marriages to have access to the same rights and facilities that heterosexual couples enjoy. These rights include the right to family, adoption rights and social security benefits for same-sex couples. 

In 2022, Thailand’s Parliament addressed the proposition of same-sex marriage, which despite having received initial favorable support from lawmakers, the result was inconclusive, for the proposal did not receive enough votes before the end of the session. The Thai Parliament is set to debate the bill on the 12th of December. If the bill passes, Thailand will become the first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Across Asia, only Singapore decriminalized same-sex marriage in 2022, with Taiwan and Nepal, being the only countries in Asia where same-sex marriage is legal. 

Despite being a well-known friendly country to the LGBTQ+ community, Thailand has historically faced some challenges when trying to address same-sex marriage. In 2022, multiple bills were proposed to amend the civil code to allow either same-sex marriage or civil unions, but all bills failed to pass. Moreover, the majority of Thailand’s population is rather conservative and considerably influenced by religious values. However, the proposal of this bill, according to government officials, might lead to a different outcome this time. Furthermore, Thailand is one of the nine countries that signed the LGBTQ Rights declaration by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011, despite having failed to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage thus far. 

Thailand, especially in the nation’s capital of Bangkok, is home to many LGBTQ+ members, but despite that, many members of the LGBTQ community still face discrimination on a daily basis. According to a spokesperson of the advocacy group Fortify Rights, members of the LGBTQ community still face difficulties in matters of marital affairs, right to welfare, adoption rights, healthcare, property rights, inheritance rights, spousal rights, and tax deduction rights. Furthermore, he added that same-sex marriage goes beyond LGBTQ rights, as many see access to equal rights across the board, a fundamental human rights issue. 

With a new government in place, the political climate of Thailand has changed. As such, the prospect of the legalization of same-sex marriage finally seems attainable.

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