Thailand to be the first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage

On Tuesday June 18th, Thailand’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a marriage equality law, paving the way for it to become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. It will now become the third Asian country to allow same-sex marriage. The legislation labels marriage as a partnership between two individuals and changes references to “men,” “women,” “husbands,” and “wives” to gender-neutral terms. It would also give LGBTQ+ couples inheritance and adoption rights equal to those in heterosexual marriages. 

The bill was passed by the lower house in March, before passing in the Senate on Tuesday. It still needs the endorsement of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, which is expected to be granted. Then, it must be published in the royal gazette, before it is officially passed into law. It will take effect 120 days after that. This means the first same-sex marriages could happen later this year.

The government was confident of this bill’s passage, announcing several days in advance that it would host a celebration on Tuesday at the Government House. Rainbow flags, carpets, and a giant balloon in the shape of two hands making a heart sign were set up in front of the main building. Politicians, diplomats, celebrities, and activists from the LGBTQ+ community joined the party. 

Supporters of this new law were very excited to see its passage after decades of activism. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin posted on X, “Today we celebrate another significant milestone in the journey of our Equal Marriage Bill. We will continue our fight for social rights for all people regardless of their status.” LGBTQ+ advocates called the move a “monumental step forward.” Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, who identifies as non-binary, thanked everyone who supported the legislation and said “Today, love trumps prejudice.” 

This legislation is a major step towards equality in Asia and hopefully more countries will follow Thailand’s example.

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