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Thailand approves latest same-sex marriage bill draft

The country could see the introduction of marriage equality by the end of 2024

By Dale Fox

A male couple smile while hugging each other wrapped with a rainbow flag
Same-sex marriage in Thailand could be introduced by the end of the year (Image: Vecteezy)

Thailand is poised to make history as the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, granting LGBTQ+ couples equal marital rights.

On Thursday 7 March, a parliamentary committee approved a draft amendment to the country’s Civil and Commercial Code, Bloomberg reported. The amendment would redefine marriage as a union between “two individuals” rather than between “a man and a woman”.

The landmark bill is expected to be put to a vote in the elected House of Representatives on 27 March for the second and third readings. If passed, it will then require approval from the Senate and a royal endorsement. The process is expected to conclude by the end of the year.

The proposed legislation represents a huge milestone for LGBTQ+ rights in the region. It would grant same-sex couples aged 18 and above the same rights and legal protections as heterosexual couples. They include inheritance, tax allowances, and child adoption.

Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, who introduced the government’s draft bill in parliament, said it aims to allow people “regardless of gender” the right to marry, Bangkok Post says. He referenced a recent public survey showing over 96% support for the legalisation among the Thai population.

Mixed record for LGBTQ+ rights in Asia

Currently, Taiwan is the only nation in Asia with fully legalised same-sex marriage, though Nepal recently registered a same-sex union. Last week, a court in Japan recently ruled the nation’s same-sex marriage ban “unconstitutional“, potentially paving the way for legislative change.

However, India’s Supreme Court refused to legalise same-sex unions last year, deeming it a matter for parliament. Neighbouring Indonesia has criminalised all extramarital sexual relations since 2022. And Singapore decriminalised sex between men but maintained a legal prohibition on same-sex marriage.

Thailand has made significant progress on LGBTQ+ rights in recent decades. In 2018, lawmakers passed a civil partnership bill granting limited legal rights to same-sex couples. Additionally, the country banned discrimination based on gender identity in 2015.