Participants in the Pride march in Bangkok, Thailand (Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Shutterstock)
Thailand has taken a substantial step towards recognising same-sex marriages, after lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of several versions of a draft Marriage Equality Bill.
The decision saw 360 out of 371 Members of Parliament in the lower house approving the legislation on its first reading, initiating the path toward marriage equality in the Southeast Asian country.
Deputy Prime Minister Advocates for Inclusive Unions
Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsuthin told lawmakers that “this draft law is for the amendment of some provisions in the civic codes to open the way for lovers, regardless of their gender, to engage and get married.”
He further highlighted that the legislation aims to afford rights, responsibilities, and family status to same-sex couples “equal to the marriage between a man and a woman.”
The bill must still undergo multiple readings and stages of approval, including approval by the king, before it can be enacted into law.
A recent Pew Research Center survey revealed that 60% of Thai adults support same-sex marriage rights.
Amnesty International Hails Moment of Hope
“By potentially becoming the third place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, Thailand has the opportunity to set a bold example for LGBTI people’s rights in this region,” commented Amnesty International Thailand Researcher, Chanatip Tatiyakaroonwong.
“These bills and the debates in Parliament over them represent a moment of hope for LGBTI people’s rights in Asia…” he added.
Tatiyakaroonwong urged lawmakers to ensure that the final bill upholds the comprehensive right to family life, encompassing adoption and inheritance for LGBTI couples, along with the legal recognition of same-sex couples as ‘spouses’ on an equal footing with different-sex couples.
While Taiwan holds the distinction of being the first place in Asia to recognise same-sex marriage in 2019, this year saw Nepal become the second, with local authorities registering the first marriage of an LGBTI couple in November.