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Thailand Celebrates Impending Legalization Of Same-Sex Marriage

Thai lawmakers convened on Tuesday to debate legalizing same-sex marriage, potentially making Thailand the first Southeast Asian nation to embrace marriage equality. Despite approval, Thailand, predominantly Buddhist, holds onto traditional values. LGBTQ individuals face barriers, and critics argue the legislation doesn't recognize transgender rights to amend gender on official documents.

Edited By : News24 Desk | Updated: Jun 18, 2024 12:04 IST
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Thai lawmakers meet to discuss legalizing same-sex marriage, potentially making Thailand a pioneer in Southeast Asia for marriage equality.
Thai lawmakers meet to discuss legalizing same-sex marriage, potentially making Thailand a pioneer in Southeast Asia for marriage equality.

Thai lawmakers convened on Tuesday to deliberate on legalizing same-sex marriage, potentially making Thailand the first Southeast Asian nation to embrace marriage equality.

The legislation is expected to receive approval from the senate upper house before proceeding to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for royal assent. Once published in the official Royal Gazette, it will take effect 120 days later.

If passed, Thailand would join Taiwan and Nepal as one of the few places in Asia where same-sex couples can marry. Activists are optimistic that the first weddings could take place as soon as October.

‘Today marks a moment of joy for the Thai people. This is a triumph for our society,’ remarked Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, an MP from the progressive Move Forward Party, addressing reporters.

Today, a historic moment unfolds in Thailand.

Tunyawaj, a prominent advocate for marriage equality in parliament, stood alongside fellow MPs and aides, holding a rainbow banner.

The session of senators commenced at 9:30 am (0230 GMT), with a final vote on the law anticipated later in the afternoon.

The new legislation replaces gender-specific terms such as ‘men,’ ‘women,’ ‘husbands,’ and ‘wives’ in marriage laws with gender-neutral language.

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Additionally, it grants same-sex couples equal rights to adoption and inheritance as heterosexual couples.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who has strongly supported the LGBTQ community and the bill, will host activists and supporters at his official residence for celebrations following the Tuesday vote.

Later, activists will host a rally in central Bangkok, featuring a drag show. Since the beginning of Pride Month in June, prominent shopping malls in the area have displayed the rainbow flag in solidarity.

Thailand has maintained a reputation for tolerance toward the LGBTQ community. According to local media reports, opinion polls indicate strong public support for marriage equality.

Globally, over 30 countries have legalized same-sex marriage since the Netherlands pioneered the movement in 2001.

However, in Asia, only Taiwan and Nepal have granted marriage equality. India was on the brink in October, but the Supreme Court deferred the decision to parliament.

‘I am thrilled to witness our progress,’ remarked Chotika Hlengpeng, a participant in the early June Pride march that attracted thousands of supporters in Bangkok.

Tuesday’s vote marks the end of years of advocacy and unsuccessful efforts to enact equal marriage legislation.

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Despite widespread approval, Thailand, predominantly Buddhist, largely holds onto traditional and conservative beliefs.

Though LGBTQ individuals are prominent, they continue to encounter obstacles and prejudice in daily existence.

Critics argue that the new legislation neglects transgender and non-binary individuals, who are still unable to amend their gender on official documents.

First published on: Jun 18, 2024 12:04 PM IST

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