Same-Sex Marriage Victory

The Same-Sex Marriage victory is here. This week has marked a historic moment for Thailand. This is that after more than 20 years of lobbying by the gay rights community, the Thai Senate voted 130-4 to pass a same-sex marriage bill. You will note that the lower house had already approved this in March. (See: The Marriage Equality Act). Likewise this decision has made Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia as well as the second in all of Asia to finally recognize same-sex marriages.

Same-Sex Marriage Victory

Now the passing of this new Marriage Equality Act brings major changes to the wording in Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code. We have written about this before on this website. (See: LGBTQ Rights in Thailand). We explained the changing of wording as well as the change in education and the military as well. Likewise the terms “men and women” and “husband and wife” are now replaced with more inclusive terms like “individuals” and “marriage partners.” You will also note that it was one of the first debates in Thailand a few years back.

Language Change

To cover the change in languages we will add the piece again here. See the full article on the LGBTQ History in Thailand article:

With the change within Thai society the language to describe the LGBT community also changed. The mainstream newspaper no longer used the words “homosexual” or (rak rom phet) much like above the words “sexual deviant” or (bung-ben thung-phet) was also not used. Also the words same-sex love or (rak phet diao-kan) were now being used. One could say that with change, the words change to describe their new position within society.

In 2006 the Thai military also changed their definitions. When you had been rejected by the military draft they would use the words that you have been passed over because of “mental illness” or “mental disorder”. Those who act like women are still eligible for the military’s draft. Those excluded are those who have had sex change surgery and those with breast implants. The military stated at the time that they are the military would not want them to expose their bare breasts in public.

Criminal Code

The definition of rape and the law had also been changed at that time in 2007. Rape used to be defined an sexual intercourse with a woman and was replaced with sexual intercourse with a person. This was the Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2007 which you can read as it also made marital rape illegal. So over the last 10 years there has been major legal changes in Thailand when it comes to equality within its society. The Constitutional Drafting Assembly has also noted before that the Thai constitution Section 30 reads that

Section 30. All persons are equal before the law and shall enjoy equal protection under the law.

As explained in the article on LGBTQ history in Thailand on this website. You will note that we showed how the word ‘’sex’’ and ‘’gender’’ was merely an issue of official interpretation. We have in this month also seen addition changes to the interpretation of the law where a woman can now sue the girlfriend of a husband for damages. Much like 2007 this year 2024 has seen even more changes to the status of women and gays in the country.

Changes and perceptions in Thailand had changed over the years as there was also Future Forward Party’s Tanwarin Sukkhapisit. Who also became the first non-binary Member of Parliament in Thailand. Future Forward Party (FFP) has had a long drive to change the definition of marriage in Thailand under Section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code.

Same Sex Marriage in Asia

As we know that recognition of same-sex marriage is not worldwide as only 37 countries give it recognition. The most recent county was Liechtenstein in May of this year (2024). Nepal has also gone down this road, however this was only based on a temporary court order. Taiwan however is the trailblazer with regards to same sex marriage in Asia.

In 1996 Thailand recognized the right to marry and form a family. The definition however of family by the UN however does not following a single model. The new legislation now brings equality. Likewise this week equality was further extended. This week the Constitutional Court ruled that a wife can now sue her husbands lover or mia noi be this male or female for damages.

Thailand has now added itself to a list of countries that respect LGBTQ rights and open to LGBTQ tourists or those seeking healthcare.

Marriage Equality Act

We saw the first reading of the Civil Partnership Bill in June 2022. The first reading came with the first rules being:

Civil unions will now be available to same-sex couples, at least 17 years old and one must be a Thai national. They will also have the same legal rights, regarding personal and jointly held property, as well as the right to adopt children and inheritance.

The first reading passed with a vote of 210 to 180 with 4 abstentions. In March 2024 in its second phase it passed with an overwhelming majority. Now the Marriage Equality Act awaits the approval from King Vajiralongkorn, which many consider to be a formality. Likewise once the law is published in the Royal Gazette. The new law will then come into effect after a period of 120 days later.

According to Thai Premier Srettha Thavisin who had expressed happiness on Twitter, saying that, “Today we celebrate another significant milestone in the journey of our Equal Marriage Bill. We will continue our fight for social rights for all people regardless of their status.” This statement from the premier expresses the Thai government’s commitment to advancing social rights as well as also ensuring equality for all Thai citizens.


Comments from Politicians

Likewise there was also Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, who is also a member of a Thai parliamentary committee on same-sex marriage stated that, “Today love triumphed over prejudice… after fighting for more than 20 years, today we can say that this country has marriage equality.” If you read the last major article we wrote on LGBTQ history in Thailand, you will understand how long this has been coming along. The sentiment was expressed by many who celebrated this historic victory in Thailand.

Likewise in March we saw the House of Representatives had already backed the bill with overwhelming support. There had only been a minority of 15 lawmakers who did not endorse it. You can see the shift of lawmakers over the past 10 years when there was very little support. Today we hear that Danuphorn Punnakanta, an MP, stated, “This is the beginning of equality. This law wants to return these rights to this group of people, not grant them the rights.” Technically the wording is incorrect as there were no rights before.

You might also see that a government survey conducted last year in 2023 the Pew Research Center survey showed that more than 60% of people in Thailand supported same-sex marriage. We can also then compare this to the 2013 survey only 10 years ago that found at the time that around 40% of Thais were in favor of gay marriage. There has been a major shift in public opinion.

Thailand’s Senate Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin celebrated the bill’s passing on X, stating that, “We celebrate the successful passing of the marriage equality bill and we celebrate the beginning of equal love. ‘Diversity’ is not ‘difference.’ May every love be beautiful and powerful.” Yet again a major shift in parliament itself.

Not all people are looing at this as a celebration. One of these are Retired army Gen. Worapong Sa-nganet who argued that removing these terms husband and wife would “destroy the family establishment in the most violent way.” This opposition is not new as we can see the history of LGBTQ+ rights in the country.

If the law is passed since it still need to be approved by the King of Thailand. Then Thailand will be the first Southeast Asian country to accept same-sex marriage and the third in Asia, following the long battle in Taiwan and Nepal.

Likewise the passage of the same-sex marriage bill in Thailand marks a significant victory for LGBT rights in the country. This legislative change will have long effects on Thai society and its legal system.