Marriage Equality Bill in Thailand an “historic step” for LGBTQ+ rights

Graham Robson June 18, 2024

The passing of the Marriage Equality Bill in Thailand has been called an “historic step” for LGBTQ+ rights.

The Bill grants LGBTQ+ couples equal rights with heterosexual couples in relation to marriage, child adoption, healthcare consent and inheritance, among other things. The Bill will now be submitted to the Thai king for royal endorsement. Following this endorsement, it will be published on the Royal Gazette and become law after 120 days.

Amnesty International’s Thailand Researcher, Chanatip Tatiyakaroonwong, said: “Thailand has taken a historic step towards becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise marriage for LGBTQ+ couples.

“This landmark moment is a reward for the tireless work of activists, civil society organisations and lawmakers who have fought for this victory.

“While there is no doubt that the legalisation of marriage for LGBTQ+ couples is a key milestone for Thailand, much more must be done to guarantee full protection of LGBTQ+ people in the country.

“LGBTQ+ people in Thailand continue to face many forms of violence and discrimination, including but not limited to technology-facilitated gender-based violence which oftens targets human rights defenders.

“The Thai authorities must build on the momentum and take further steps that protect the rights and ensure the participation of LGBTQ+ people and organisations.”

In 2015, Thailand passed the Gender Equality Act aimed at providing legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression and sex characteristics.

However, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has raised concerns about the law, as it contains a provision that grants exemptions to the prohibition of gender-based discrimination based on religious principles or national security.

In 2019, Taiwan became the first in Asia to recognise same-sex marriage, while Nepal was the next, registering the first marriage of an LGBTQ+ couple in November last year.

In a recent report, Amnesty found that LGBTQ+ human rights defenders in Thailand face targeted digital surveillance and online harassment over their human rights activism. Many have suffered severe mental health impacts and have experienced a chilling effect that led them to reduce or stop their activism.