Thai Lower House Approves Bill To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

On Wednesday, Thailand’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, marking a major step toward its enactment.

The approval saw 400 votes in favor against 10, with a few abstentions. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Should the Senate approve and the King of Thailand consent, Thailand will stand as the first Southeast Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage, joining only Taiwan and Nepal in Asia.

The proposed legislation redefines marriage as a union between two people, moving away from the traditional male-female definition.

This change would grant LGBTQ couples equal access to tax benefits, property inheritance rights, and the authority to make medical decisions for incapacitated partners.

Additionally, the bill proposes to allow adoption rights, currently restricted to heterosexual couples, with exceptions for single women adopting children with special needs.

“The amendment of this law is for all Thai people. It is the starting point to create equality,” Danuphorn Punnakanta, a lawmaker who chairs the lower house’s committee on marriage equality, told Parliament.

Danuphorn Punnakanta, spearheading the bill’s committee on marriage equality, stated, “The amendment of this law is for all Thai people. It is the starting point to create equality.”

“We understand that this law is not a universal cure to every problem, but at least it’s the first step toward equality in Thai society.”

The journey to pass the legislation spanned over ten years, facing challenges due to political instability and debates over its content and approach.

In December last year, Parliament passed four proposed draft bills on same-sex marriage: one by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s team and three by the Move Forward Party, the Democrat Party, and representatives from the civil sector.

These four draft bills were merged into a consolidated draft, which received approval on Wednesday.

Nada Chaiyajit, a law lecturer at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai and an early supporter of the law, celebrated the achievement, calling it “the greatest victory.”

“We have been working hard with the committee. This is not only about L.G.B.T.I.Q., this is about everyone. Equality.”

Thailand ranks among the world’s most accepting countries for LGBTQ individuals, yet it retains socially conservative aspects within its predominantly Buddhist culture.