Thailand passes four draft bills seeking to legalize same-sex marriage News
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Thailand passes four draft bills seeking to legalize same-sex marriage

The House of Representatives of Thailand passed four bills on Thursday that propose to amend the country’s Civil and Commercial Code and legalize same-sex marriage.

The four bills seek to change the wording such as “men and women” and “husband and wife” in the Civil and Commercial Code to “individuals” and “marriage partners,” allowing same-sex couples civil rights and status under the law. The proposed amendment, also called the “Draft Equal Marriage Act,” aims to ensure every couple in the country equal treatment. According to Prit Watcharasindhu, a MP from the Move Forward Party, the four new bills will give every couple the ability to get married—regardless of their gender identification or sexual orientation. 

The bills were proposed by the cabinet together with Move Forward Party and civil society organizations. Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsuthin called on every voter to support the four bills “regardless of their political side.” However, the bills still faced opposition from some Islamic MPs within the Prachachat Party. The opposition suggested excluding enforcement of proposed bills in the three Southern Border Provinces (SBP), where the majority of the population is Muslim.

Eventually, the House of Representatives passed the four bills on first reading with a 369 majority vote out of the 380 lawmakers present.

The four bills still need to go through multiple readings and stages of approval before becoming law. If passed eventually, Thailand would become the second South Asian country to allow same-sex marriage after Nepal. On Thursday, Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin posted on social media platform X that “We are finally on the road to bridging the gap to equal rights for all today! Congratulations to the LGBTQIA+ community for the Same-Sex Marriage Bill passing its first reading. May love finally triumph.” The Move Forward Party stated after the voting that December 21 marked a historical day in Thailand, for the long journey of the fight for equality is drawing to a close.

Even before Thursday’s vote, Thailand was celebrated for its openness regarding the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2015, it passed a Gender Equality Act, which aimed at protecting the LGBTQIA+ community against gender-based discrimination. That said, the act nevertheless allowed for certain discriminatory treatment based on religious and national security reasons.

In 2021, Thailand’s Constitutional Court rendered a decision recognizing the constitutionality of section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code, which provides that marriage is only between a man and a woman. The court nevertheless pushed the Parliament, the cabinet, and other agencies to introduce legislation to guarantee basic human rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. In November, Thavisin announced that the government would do just that.

During the Thursday discussion, several representatives pointed out that discrimination still exists against the LGBTQIA+ community in educational institutions and society in general. Paramee Waijongcharoen, MP for the Move Forward Party, said that passing the four bills is just a first step towards the elimination of discrimination, with many other laws to follow.