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Thailand Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage: Historic Senate Vote Marks LGBTQ+ Victory

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The Pride Caravan, a vibrant symbol of celebration, made its triumphant arrival at Government House on Tuesday, following a joyous journey from the parliament. This jubilant parade came in the wake of a remarkable milestone—the Senate’s approval of the marriage equality law, a victory long-awaited by Thailand’s LGBTQ+ community. (Photo credit: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

In a groundbreaking move, Thailand is poised to become the first country in Southeast Asia to legally recognize same-sex marriage. The transformative marriage equality legislation successfully navigated the Upper House, earning a resounding affirmation with a 130-4 vote, accompanied by 18 abstentions. LGBTQ+ advocates exulted as the gavel fell, marking a pivotal moment in their relentless pursuit of equal rights.

The excitement was palpable outside the parliament on Tuesday. As the Senate’s final reading of the bill progressed, advocates who had gathered to witness the historic vote could barely contain their anticipation. When the results were announced, cheers and applause erupted, resonating with the euphoria of a well-deserved triumph. The celebratory momentum carried the advocates to Government House, where an official event was hosted in their honor. From there, the festivities continued at the iconic Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, transforming the night into a jubilant celebration of love and equality.

Even though Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin couldn’t join in person due to his battle with Covid-19, he extended his heartfelt congratulations through a Zoom call, highlighting the significance of the occasion.

The newly ratified law signifies a monumental shift in Thailand’s legal landscape. Effective within the next few months, it will allow any two individuals aged 18 or older to formalize their union and enjoy the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. Emphasizing inclusivity, the bill uses gender-neutral terminology, defining a married couple as “two individuals” rather than “a man and a woman.” Additionally, the legal designation of “husband and wife” has been thoughtfully updated to “spouses.” This progressive move ensures that LGBTQ+ individuals from any nation can register their marriage in Thailand, and foreign same-sex couples will also be entitled to a spousal visa once the law comes into effect.

The bill, now set to be forwarded to the cabinet and subsequently submitted for royal endorsement, will be officially enacted within 120 days of its publication in the Royal Gazette. This legislative victory places Thailand in the distinguished company of Nepal and Taiwan, making it the third country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriages.

Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, serving as the Senate’s special committee spokesman, praised the legislation as a significant victory for equal rights. “There is no rationale for the Upper House to oppose the wisdom of the House of Representatives,” he remarked, acknowledging the Lower House’s previous approval of the bill. This momentous achievement, twenty-three years in the making, signifies the dawn of a new era in Thailand’s commitment to equality, echoed by the sentiments of Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, a list-MP from the Move Forward Party.

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