Thailand becomes first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage

Thailand becomes first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage

Thailand's Senate has voted decisively on Tuesday to approve groundbreaking laws permitting marriage for same-sex couples, establishing itself as the inaugural nation in Southeast Asia to legalize marriage parity.

The marriage equality bill was approved in its final reading by the Senate in a decisive 188-14 vote, capping more than two decades of advocacy work by LGBTQ activists. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin hailed the vote as a "significant milestone" and vowed to continue fighting for equal rights.

"Today we celebrate another significant milestone in the journey of our Equal Marriage Bill," Srettha said. "We will continue our fight for social rights for all people regardless of their status."

Upon receiving royal endorsement, the law will take effect 120 days after being published in the royal gazette, meaning same-sex couples could begin marrying as soon as later this year. LGBTQ advocates celebrated the historic achievement.

Thailand is often viewed as more accepting of LGBTQ rights in comparison to its neighboring countries, but achieving marriage equality has been a significant and longstanding objective. Human rights advocate Matcha Phornin, who observed the decision alongside her spouse and adopted child, emphasized that the legislation will offer essential legal safeguards for LGBTQ households.

"We have support from the parliament, from the senators who passed this law," Matcha said. "That means we are protected by law. And she will be legally adopted after this."

Human rights groups applauded Thailand for setting a precedent on LGBTQ rights in socially conservative Southeast Asia. However, they noted that challenges remain in addressing discrimination and changing societal attitudes in the Buddhist-majority kingdom.

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