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Thailand's Lower House Passes Historic Same-Sex Law, To Become Third Asian Country To Do So

Thailand inched closer to marriage equality after the lower house passed a bill giving legal recognition to same-sex marriage. The legislation was passed by an overwhelming majority of 400 of the 415 legislators in the lower house.

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Participants march on Sukhumvit road while holding rainbow flags during the Bangkok Pride Parade 2023. Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
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"I want to invite you all to make history," said Danuphorn Punnakanta, chairman of the parliamentary committee, as Thailand went into reading of a historic bill, welcoming a step towards inclusivity.

Following which, in an historic legislative move, Thailand inched closer to marriage equality after the lower house passed a bill giving legal recognition to same-sex marriage. The legislation was passed by an overwhelming majority of 400 of the 415 legislators in the lower house, with only 10 voting against it. 

In December, the parliament had approved the initial readings of four draft bills on same-sex marriage and a committee was appointed to frame into a final single draft.  "This law would reflect the government's agenda to improve human rights... so that everyone will have the right to build a family without any limitation," Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsutin had told lawmakers in December. A huge rainbow flag was seen in the house after the bill was passed.

Welcome Changes

Under the law, married same-sex couples can also adopt children. However, the lower house did not adopt the committee's suggestion to use the term "parents" instead of "fathers and mothers".

The legislation will see the description of marriage morph to a partnership between two individuals, from union between a man and woman, giving way to long-awaited gender neutral terms. The bill amends the Civil and Commercial Code to change the words “men and women” and  “husband and wife” to “individuals”, and “marriage partners”. According to the BBC, the law would also give LGBTQIA couples equal rights to get marital tax savings, to inherit property, and to give medical treatment consent for partners who are incapacitated. 

Although it still requires approval from the Upper House and endorsement from the king, before it becomes law, following which it would only come into effect 120 days later, Thailand will join Taiwan and Nepal as the only Asian countries to legalise same-sex union, and will also become the first Southeast Asian country to do so.

"We did this for all Thai people to reduce disparity in society and start creating equality," Punnakanta told the lawmakers ahead of the reading. The bill had the support of all of Thailand's major parties and had been in the works for over a decade. “For this law, we would like to return rights to the LGBTQIA+ group. We are not giving them rights. These are the fundamental rights that this group of people…has lost,” he further added. 

However, activists have pointed out how the legislators denying approval to the inclusion of the word “parent” in addition to “father and mother” in the law, would limit the rights of some LGBTQ+ couples to form a family and raise children.

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