218 votes for and 180 against, with Palang Pracharath Party leading the opposition—a large step towards equality.
Marriage equality in Thailand has always been met with obstacles. The first time the topic of same-sex marriage legalisation was discussed was in 2012, when a civil-union-partnership bill was brought up. Even though it’s a step towards members of the LGBTQ+ community being recognised as equal, civil partnership is not equal marriage, as it fails to give the same rights and legal benefits as a heterosexual couple.
If that’s not enough—just last year, when the topic was brought into the legal field, the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that the notion of preventing same-sex couples to legally marry is “not unconstitutional.” This move set many social media platforms on gay fire, questioning the constitutional clause that guarantees equal treatment to all can be found in the very first chapter.
Describing the journey of the community fighting for equal marriage as a bumpy road would be understating it.
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Fast forward to this year: the parliament has approved a number of civil partnership bills introduced by different parties, but to everyone’s frustration, the problems still remain the same. Couples under civil partnership are not allowed to be engaged, adopt children, or even change their family name to match one another. Worse—imagine if your partner were to get into an accident. Under the civil union bill, you cannot visit your partner in the emergency room or have any say on the procedure if your partner were to meet his untimely demise. The frustration of both LGBTQ+ community and their allies over this bill may be understandable after all.
Even though the Marriage Equality bill is not yet in effect as it needs to go through several more readings, fighting with conservative members of the Senate, it is a rare step towards equality that the Thai LGBTQ+ community is longing for.