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Thai lawmakers pass landmark same-sex marriage law

June 18, 2024

LGBTQ+ advocates hailed the move as a "victory" as it makes Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia to enact marriage equality legislation.

A participant holds a rainbow flag at government house in Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand’s Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve a marriage equality billImage: Sakchai Lalit/AP/picture alliance

Lawmakers in Thailand on Tuesday passed the final reading of a marriage equality law after more than two decades of effort from activists and politicians.

The vote sets the kingdom on the path to becoming the first Southeast Asian nation and the third Asian nation — behind Nepal and Taiwan — to recognize same-sex marriage.

The Senate upper house approved the bill by an overwhelming majority of 130 to 4 and 18 abstentions. The legislation will now head to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for royal approval.

Thai lawmakers legalize same-sex marriage

How was the news greeted?

LGBTQ+ rights advocates have called the move a "victory" with Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, an MP with the progressive Move Forward Party saying: "Today is the day that Thai people will smile. It is a victory for the people." 

"We are very proud of everyone involved in this historic moment. You have helped to bring about a massive change," Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, an LGBTQ activist and committee member who scrutinized the law, told senators following the vote. "Today love wins over prejudice." 

Thailand's Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, has given the LGBTQ community and the bill his full backing and will open his official residence to activists and supporters for celebrations later.

What will change?

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

The new legislation changes references to "men", "women", "husbands" and "wives" in marriage laws to gender-neutral terms.

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.

kb/rc (Reuters, AFP)