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Thailand Legalizes Gay Marriage in Historic Decision

June 20, 2024

Thailand became the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday.

Thailand became the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday.

The kingdom’s Senate voted overwhelming in favor of the bill. 130 members voted in support of the bill, four voted against, and 18 members abstained from voting. The bill will now go to King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s desk to be endorsed before it can be considered law. In Thailand, this endorsement is often considered a formality, according to CNN. The law will go into effect 120 days after it is published in the Royal Gazette, the official journal of Thailand.

The new law describes marriage as between two individuals, rather than between a man and a woman. Terms like “men,” “women,” “wives,” and “husbands” were changed to gender-neutral terms like “spouse” and “person.”  LGBTQ+ couples will be allowed to adopt and decide medical treatment for their partner if they are incapacitated. They will also have equal access to tax savings and rights to property.

The rights offered under the new law will extend to trans residents as well. However, Thailand does not recognize their gender change under the law- a fact that activists are still fighting to change.

“The potential impact of this bill is immense,” Panyaphon Phiphatkhunarnon, the founder of LGBTQ+ equality organization Love Foundation, told CNN. “It would not only change the lives of countless couples but also contribute to a more just and equitable society for all.”

Once approved, Thailand will become the third nation in all of Asia to have legalized gay marriage. Taiwan passed the law in 2019, and Nepal followed in 2023.

Two Bangkok residents, Pokpong Jitjaiyai and Watit Benjamonkolchai, plan to celebrate the approval by getting married.

“When I was young, people said people like us couldn’t have a family, can’t have children, so marriage was impossible,” Pokpong said. “Over 10 years ago, we could not live together the way we are now. We could never be our true selves, the way it is now… and now I can freely say that I am gay.”

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