Thai activists celebrate the Senate's vote in favor of marriage equality

LGBTQ+ activists celebrate the Thai Senate's passage of a bill legalizing marriage equality outside the Government House in Bangkok on June 24, 2024.

(Photo: Irish Embassy Thailand)

'Love Wins': Thailand Set to Be First Southeast Asian Nation to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

"While there is no doubt that the legalization of marriage for LGBTI couples is a key milestone for Thailand, much more must be done to guarantee full protection," said one campaigner.

LGBTQ+ advocates around the world on Tuesday cheered the Thai Senate's passage of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, a move that—if approved by the country's king as expected—would make Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia to do so.

The Bangkok Postreported Thai senators voted 130-4, with 18 abstentions, in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriages in the country of 72 million people. The Thai House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the legislation in March. The legislation would become law if it passes further review by the Senate and the Constitutional Court and is approved by King Rama X. Royal assent is a formality that will almost certainly be granted.

"The bill represents a monumental step forward for LGBTQ+ rights in Thailand," Panyaphon Phiphatkhunarnon, founder of the advocacy group Love Foundation, toldCNN.

Plaifa Kyoka Shodladd, an 18-year-old activist, toldThe New York Times that "after 20 years of trying to legalize this matter, finally, love wins."

In Asia, only Nepal and Taiwan have achieved same-sex marriage equality. Thailand would become the 39th nation to legalize same-sex marriage worldwide.

Legalization "would underscore Thailand's leadership in the region in promoting human rights and gender equality," said the Thai Civil Society Commission of Marriage Equality, Activists, and LGBTI+ Couples.

Amnesty International Thailand researcher Chanatip Tatiyakaroonwong said in a statement: "Thailand has taken a historic step towards becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize marriage for LGBTI couples. This landmark moment is a reward for the tireless work of activists, civil society organizations, and lawmakers who have fought for this victory."

"While there is no doubt that the legalization of marriage for LGBTI couples is a key milestone for Thailand, much more must be done to guarantee full protection of LGBTI people in the country," Chanatip continued. "LGBTI people in Thailand continue to face many forms of violence and discrimination, including but not limited to technology-facilitated gender-based violence, which often targets human rights defenders."

"Thai authorities must build on the momentum and take further steps that protect the rights and ensure the participation of LGBTI people and organizations," Chanatip added.

Thailand's imminent legalization of same-sex marriage equality stands in contrast with the hundreds of pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation proposed or passed mostly in Republican-controlled state legislatures in the United States.

Advocates are also worried about the future of LGBTQ+ rights at the national level, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization—the ruling that erased half a century of federal abortion rights—that the high court could reconsider cases including Obergefell v. Hodges, which in 2015 legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

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