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Thailand moves one step closer to marriage equality with approval of draft bill

"Thailand will step into a new era, a new age of equality, marching alongside various countries with the Pride of all its people," Thai MP Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat says

By Dale Fox

Stock photo of an Asian male same sex couple lying down on a Pride flag looking into each other's eyes and holding hands
Thailand is moving one step closer to marriage equality (Image: Vecteezy)

Update: The bill has been approved with an overwhelming majority vote

Thailand’s cabinet has approved a draft marriage equality bill, moving the country closer to becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to legalise same-sex marriage.

The bill is expected to be considered by Thailand’s parliament on 21 December, Bloomberg reports.

If passed, the bill would grant full marital rights to same-sex couples equal to those currently only available for heterosexual couples.

According to a statement from Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s office, this includes legal protections, shared property and inheritance rights, adoption, and more. The prime minister “has been an enthusiastic backer” of the draft bill, Bangkok Post says.

“Marriage rights are fundamental human rights”

The language of the bill explicitly refers to “marriage”. This goes beyond a previous civil union bill, which would have provided legal recognition of same-sex partnerships but stopped short of enabling same-sex couples to legally marry.

“Society now understands and agrees that marriage rights are fundamental human rights, yet diverse sexual orientations have been overlooked. Hence, today is the time for equal marriage, not civil partnership,” Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, an MP for Thailand’s Move Forward Party, which proposed the bill, wrote on X.

Bill may help Thailand’s WorldPride 2028 bid

Kamolwongwat adds that the passing of the bill may help Thailand’s bid to host WorldPride 2028.

“If Thailand aims to host WorldPride celebrations, the key lies in collective Pride, progress, cooperation, and swiftly passing equal marriage laws through Parliament before June 2024. Many parties, including WorldPride 2024 organisers, have been waiting for this moment, anticipating the rights that have been denied.

“On 21 December, Thailand will step into a new era, a new age of equality, marching alongside various countries with the Pride of all its people.”

Currently, Taiwan is the only nation in Asia to have fully legalised same-sex marriage, though Nepal recently registered a same-sex union. Globally, only around 35 countries currently recognise marriage equality.