Full marriage equality bill gets surprise nod from Thai Parliament

LGBTQ+ rights supporters wave rainbow flags during a June. 5 pride parade held in Bangkok’s Silom area. Photo: Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt
LGBTQ+ rights supporters wave rainbow flags during a June. 5 pride parade held in Bangkok’s Silom area. Photo: Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt

More refreshingly good news in Thailand today: Marriage equality has won the support of a majority of lawmakers.

On the heels of a bill that would establish civil unions, an opposition bill to extend full marriage equality sailed through its first reading in parliament with 210 votes in favor, 180 against, and 12 abstentions.

#MarriageEquality has surged atop Thai Twitter this afternoon.

“It’s like we were able to open the first door toward marriage equality rights in Thailand,” LGBTQ+ rights activist Nada Chaiyajit told Coconuts Bangkok. “Up until now, every draft that we’ve had in the past, had no chance to even be considered during the process.”

“It’s passed! I broke down in tears,” tweeted anwarin Sukkhapisit, the first openly transgender lawmaker and filmmaker of the once-banned film Insects in the Backyard. “Thank you for all your support. The voices of the people are so loud that the House of Representatives answered to them.”

“If you vote for the Marriage Equality Bill, you do not vote for a law to be passed, but you also show your acceptance of people with gender diversity, unconditionally,” said Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, the Move Forward Party member who proposed the bill.

The bill had been kept on ice for months through a procedural tactic the ruling coalition used to block it from being taken up.

While today’s vote is no guarantee that it will be adopted, it is a good indicator of its support. Polling has found wide public support for the bill.

The bill now goes back to the committee level for amendments before returning for a vote.

It is vehemently opposed by some ultra-conservative lawmakers.

“We’re defying natural order,” said Soekarno Matha of the Prachachat Party. “Nature has created every living creature in pairs – male and female – and placed us humans as superior.”

The Constitutional Court late last year rejected a legal bid to extend marriage rights through the constitution on a similar antediluvian basis.

Today, the parliament also passed the Civil Partnership Bill in its first reading on a 229-166 vote with six abstentions. The government-backed bill would establish civil unions, not marriage. LGBTQ supporters decried it as formalizing discrimination by not extending the full set of rights afforded to heterosexual couples.

While the Civil Partnership Bill would grant couples the rights of inheritance, adoption, and asset management, it still fails to permit the couples’ rights to surrogacy nor recognize a spouse as the next of kin on medical records.

Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat said that his proposed Marriage Equality Bill, unlike the government-backed Civil Partnership Bill, will “truly stand” for all the people, regardless of their gender. 

Rights group Fortify Rights issued a statement calling out the Civil Partnership Bill for codifying inequality. It called on the cabinet to adopt the Marriage Equality Bill instead.

“The current law in Thailand creates a hierarchy of citizens based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” said Amy Smith, executive director at Fortify Rights. “This marriage equality bill has the potential to eliminate the discrimination that exists between LGBTI+ couples and other couples and, in doing so, will bring Thailand’s laws in compliance with international standards as well as its constitution.”

Related

Civil Partnership Bill gets nod from Thai cabinet – but not marriage rights supporters

Thai cabinet keeps marriage, brewing reform bills in deep freeze

Thai constitution does not permit same-sex marriage, court rules

Rainbow Power: Hundreds demand marriage equality in Bangkok (Photos)

Court once again delays ruling on same-sex Thai marriage

Cabinet signs off on adding adoption, marriage to Thai civil unions

Everything you need to know about the Thai Civil Partnership Bill (so far)

3 in 5 Thais support same-sex civil partnerships: survey

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