Marriage Equality Brings Joy to Thailand’s LGBTQ+ Community

Same-sex couples in Thailand have been celebrating and expressing joy since the Senate passed the Marriage Equality Bill two weeks ago. They have eagerly awaited this moment and plan to apply for a marriage license once the bill becomes law.

The law holds significant meaning for them, ensuring the happiness and health of their relationship as long as they uphold their shared values.

On June 18, the Senate gave final approval to the Marriage Equality Bill. This legislation allows same-sex couples to legally marry, granting them the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples.

Thailand is expected to enact the law by the end of the year, becoming the first Southeast Asian nation and one of 37 countries worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage.

A Long Fight

The journey toward marriage equality has been lengthy. The proposal was first introduced in 2001 by then-Interior Minister Purachai Piamsomboon but faced opposition from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at the time.

In 2019, during Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration, the idea was revived. Despite initial approval, the legislation was shelved due to parliamentary dissolution.

Finally, on March 27, the Lower House passed the Marriage Equality Bill. After 84 days, the Upper House confirmed its approval with a vote of 130 to 4.

The law will come into effect 120 days after being published in the Royal Gazette, following royal endorsement.

For the Thai LGBTQ+ community, this achievement marks a victory after more than two decades of advocating for their rights.

Room To Improve

Prinn Vadhanavira, 44, and Chakkrit Vadhanavira, 49, are eager to formalize their 22-year relationship through marriage, despite past legal hurdles.

Mr. Prinn explained that due to the lack of legal recognition for same-sex couples in the past, they encountered numerous challenges. This included difficulties when purchasing property, securing joint loans, or designating each other as insurance beneficiaries.

To resolve these issues, they opted for a unique solution: Mr. Prinn’s parents legally adopted Mr. Chakkrit as their son. This strategic move allowed them to obtain legal benefits by establishing a familial relationship recognized under the law.

The couple expressed their intention to register their marriage promptly once the law takes effect. They noted they had already sought advice from legal professionals and thoroughly researched the procedures for transitioning their legal status from adoptive siblings to spouses.

The law is anticipated to address significant concerns for Sirorat Kanjanasumranwong, 38, and her partner Palita Areeras, 30, who have been together for three years.

While the legislation permits same-sex couples to legally marry, there are areas requiring refinement, particularly concerning gender-specific designations that could potentially result in misgendering LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender people.

Nachale Boonyapisomparn, vice president of the Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights, expressed her desire to become a mother as a trans woman, while her partner, a trans man, wishes to be recognized as a father if they choose to formalize their relationship.

Although technically they can register their marriage as a heterosexual couple, their gender identities do not align with their biological sexes.

However, the current law continues to use terms like “father” and “mother” based on biological sex, which may result in misgendering within transgender relationships.

“Thailand has come far, but many things remain unresolved, such as issues of legal guardianship and reproductive health,” Ms. Nachale said.

“We also need to adapt our education, welfare, justice, and labor systems to these legal changes, as well as work on preventing stigma and discrimination.

“The Marriage Equality Bill proves Thailand can change, but we must ensure Thai society progresses alongside this change,” she added.