Thailand’s parliament passes bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Thailand’s parliament passes bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Thailand’s parliament has achieved a groundbreaking milestone by approving a marriage equality bill, a significant stride that positions one of Asia’s most progressive nations closer to potentially becoming the third territory in the region to legalize same-sex unions. The legislation, passed on Wednesday, March 27, garnered overwhelming support from 400 out of 415 lawmakers present, with a mere 10 dissenting votes, setting the stage for Thailand to potentially join Taiwan and Nepal in embracing same-sex marriage.

Chairman of the parliamentary committee overseeing the draft bill, Danuphorn Punnakanta, emphasized the bill’s significance in reducing societal disparities and fostering equality, urging lawmakers to make history through its enactment.

This legislative advancement signals a major shift in Thailand’s stance on LGBTQ rights, solidifying its reputation as a beacon of liberalism in Asia. Despite coexisting with traditional Buddhist values, Thailand has cultivated an environment where openness and progressive attitudes towards LGBTQ issues thrive alongside conservative norms.

For years, Thailand has attracted same-sex couples with its vibrant LGBTQ social scene and targeted tourism campaigns. However, activists argue that existing laws and institutions still perpetuate discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and couples, highlighting the need for legal reforms to reflect evolving social attitudes.

The newly passed bill consolidates four separate draft bills and redefines marriage as a union between two individuals, irrespective of gender, departing from the previous “husband and wife” paradigm. During the debate, LGBTQ advocates within the parliamentary committee advocated for gender-neutral terms like “parent” instead of “father” and “mother” to be used in references to the family unit, aiming to address potential complications, particularly in adoption cases.

While the passage of the bill is undoubtedly a positive development, Nada Chaiyajit, an LGBTQ advocate and law lecturer at Mae Fah Luang University, acknowledges that unresolved issues remain. While celebrating the right to same-sex marriage, Chaiyajit notes that the legislation falls short of granting full rights to family establishment, underscoring the need for further progress in ensuring comprehensive equality for LGBTQ individuals in Thailand.

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