11 July 2024

Thailand’s Lower House approved the final reading of the landmark marriage equality bill today, making Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia, and the third country in Asia, to recognise same-sex marriage, once it passes the Senate.

The bill, which seeks to amend the Civil and Commercial Code, was approved by 400 votes to 10, with two abstentions and three MPs who decided not to vote.

Danuporn Punnakan, Pheu Thai list MP and chair of the House scrutiny committee, told parliament that the bill is meant for all Thais, irrespective of gender.

Under the bill, same-sex couples who want to get engaged or married must be at least 18 years old, to protect minors from being forced into marriage, which is in line with the convention on the protection of the rights of children, said Danuporn.

He also said that the House scrutiny committee had added one provision to the bill, specifying the rights, duties and legal status of same-sex couples in the creation of a family.

He assured that the existing rights of men and women in general will not be affected by this bill, but it will protect a certain group of people, classified as LGBTQ.

He said that a minority of the House scrutiny committee had proposed a new wording, “first parents”, to be added to the bill, but this was rejected by the majority of the committee on the grounds that the wording is new and there is no legal definition yet.

The Pheu Thai MP said that it is now widely recognised that there are more than the male and female genders in societies, as some people who were born as a boy or a girl want to choose their own gender when they grow up.

The bill does not give them any additional rights, but restores their basic rights, said Danuporn, adding that the bill will mark the beginning of the creation of equality in Thai society.

The bill has to be approved by the Senate before it becomes law. In Asia, Taiwan and Nepal already have the same laws.