(CTN News) – Thailand could be the first Southeast Asian country to allow same-sex marriage after the prime minister revealed that his cabinet had approved a bill on marriage equality. The bill is expected to be considered in parliament next month.
At a press briefing in Bangkok on Tuesday, a government spokesperson announced that the Civil and Commercial Code would be amended to use the words “individuals” or “spouse” instead of “men and women” or “husband and wife.” This change would grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Even though Thailand has a rich history of LGBT activism, same-sex couples still face discrimination in the country’s legal system when it comes to adoption and marriage.
While upholding the validity of the country’s current marriage law—which recognizes heterosexual couples—in 2021, the country’s constitutional court also urged lawmakers to protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
Following her inauguration in August, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has made the uncommon societal problem of marriage equality a top priority.
As a result of the popular Move Forward Party’s failed attempt to seize power, the prime minister has shifted her attention away from reforming the country’s contentious royal defamation statute and toward rebuilding the local economy and attracting foreign investment.
When asked about his intentions for Bangkok to host the WorldPride events in 2028, Srettha stated, “I believe that everyone should be entitled to equal rights, regardless of their gender,” in an October post on X.
The Thai parliament discussed and debated a marriage equality bill last year; it had preliminary support from legislators but never reached a final vote before the session concluded.
With the new bill’s approval by the king and parliament, Thailand will break new ground in Southeast Asia, a region characterized by strong religious and social conservatism, by recognizing same-sex marriage. Out of all the Asian countries that have decriminalized same-sex marriage, only Singapore and Taiwan have done so as of last year.