Thailand is on the brink of becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage, as its Parliament prepares to debate a groundbreaking bill that aims to grant LGBTQ+ couples equal rights.
Historic proposal: Thailand’s Parliament is set to discuss a final draft bill on Thursday, Dec. 21, that would legalize same-sex marriage, reported the Bangkok Post. This would make Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia and the third in Asia (after Taiwan and Nepal) to do so.
About the bill: The bill seeks to amend the Thai Civil and Commercial Code, replacing gendered terms like “men and women” and “husband and wife” with gender-neutral terms like “individuals” and “marriage partners.” This would grant LGBTQ+ couples the same legal rights and benefits as heterosexual couples, including healthcare, inheritance and property ownership.
General support: The bill has received support from both the ruling Pheu Thai party and the opposition Move Forward party and is expected to have general support in Parliament. However, it still needs to be debated and approved before it can become law.
In a statement, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin endorsed the bill, noting that this will “strengthen the family institution that includes gender diversity.”
Why it matters: The passage of the bill would be a significant step forward for LGBTQ+ rights in Thailand, reflecting societal shifts in the country. Cultural and religious ceremonies for same-sex couples are already becoming more common and public attitudes towards marriage are evolving.
Rapeepun Jommaroeng, an adviser and policy analyst for the advocacy group Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, is confident the bill is close to getting passed.
Jommaroeng told Al Jazeera
that if the bill is passed, “it means that the country has progressed to another level of civil liberty or civil freedom to recognize the diversity in Thai society. This is a time that they can celebrate and they can be themselves and they don’t need to lie anymore.”
What’s next: The previous government’s attempt to pass a civil union bill for same-sex couples failed in 2022. The current draft bill is considered more progressive than the previous one, as it grants full marriage equality. If passed, the next step would be to amend the pension fund law to recognize all couples.