Thailand takes historic step toward legalizing same-sex marriage

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

Thailand's LGBTQ community takes part in a Gay Freedom Day parade in Bangkok in 2018. According to

Thailand's lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, today passed a landmark bill to legalize same-sex marriages. Thai politicians voted overwhelmingly in favor, with 400 representatives supporting the legislation, and only 10 members opposing it. Five members did not vote after a four-hour debate.

The bill must now be approved by the Senate, followed by formal approval from the Thai king, before the law can become reality in Thailand – a process that could still take a few months, although it is expected to be completed before the end of the year. This year. If successful, Thailand would become the third nation in Asia to recognize marriage equality, and the first in Southeast Asia.

Taiwan became the first Asian government to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019, while Nepal has taken progressive steps toward equality, most recently in November 2023, when the Nepalese government first recognized marriage between two Nepalese same sex.

Even though Buddhist-majority Thailand, which decriminalized homosexuality in 1956, is largely open and accepting of unconventional sexual and gender identities, LGBTQ+ people still face discrimination and prejudice from many aspects. of society and daily life, where morals continue to prevail. Activists say LGBTQ+ people continue to face social barriers in education, the workplace, the healthcare system, the military, the monastic community, and are often rejected by their own families due to expectations. traditional patriarchal.


In response to this news, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), headquartered in Bangkok, a global network of individuals and organizations committed to promoting and working towards social justice, environmental sustainability and world peace, shared the following message with BDG. :

INEB today extends its heartfelt congratulations to the LGBTQIA+ communities on the historic passage of the Same-Sex Marriage Bill in the Thai Parliament! This important milestone demonstrates the collaborative efforts of many civic groups, highlighting the power of partnership and democratic practices.

The bill recognizes the self-determination of non-cisgender people in their relationship choices (and beyond), giving community members the power to claim the space that is rightfully theirs and ending unfair discrimination regarding gender. marriage equality.

As we celebrate this first achievement, we remain hopeful for its approval by the Senate and the Constitutional Court. The next crucial step is to ensure the right to be legally recognized as guardians of children.

Once again, congratulations!

Established in 1989 by renowned Buddhist scholar and activist Professor Sulak Sivaraksa, INEB strives to promote understanding, cooperation and connections between inter-Buddhist and inter-religious groups, and to actively address global issues pressing issues such as human rights, conflict resolution, and environmental crises.

INEB founded and runs social projects and awareness programs across the region aimed at overcoming suffering and empowering vulnerable communities through Dharma practice and social engagement. INEB initiatives include education and training programs, community development projects, advocacy and lobbying efforts, and interfaith dialogue. INEB is particularly active in promoting the social empowerment of marginalized groups, which includes building a base of support for gender equality and social inclusion for the LGBTIQ+ community in Southeast Asia .*

Religious leaders and activists attend an INEB rally, Interfaith Pride: Gender Equality and Social Justice,* in 2023. Image provided by INEB

Ahead of today's parliamentary vote, the chairman of the parliamentary committee responsible for the bill, Danuphorn Punnakanta, highlighted the importance of the legislation: "We did this for all Thais to reduce disparities in society and start creating equality. » (Al Jazeera)

“This is the beginning of equality. It is not a universal solution to all problems, but it is the first step towards equality,” Danuphorn emphasized. “This law is about restoring those rights to this group of people, not granting them those rights. " (BBC News)

Once implemented, the legislation would officially revise the definition of a marriage between "a man and a woman" to "between two individuals", while their legal status would change from "husband and wife" to "married couple".

“Today, society has shown us that it cares about LGBT rights,” said Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, an MP from the progressive Move Forward party, who is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. “Now we will finally have the same rights as others. " (France 24)

Mookdapa Yangyuenpradorn, spokesperson for the human rights group Fortify Rights, welcomed the historic decision. “This is a huge step for our country – it is the first in Southeast Asia,” Mookdapa said, expressing hope that the later stages of the bill will move forward smoothly, so that Thailand “is on par with the international level in terms of LGBT rights.” .” (France 24)

Thailand is a predominantly Theravada Buddhist country, with 93,5% of the country's 69 million people identifying as Buddhist, according to 2018 government census data. The Southeast Asian kingdom has some 40 000 temples and around 300 Buddhist monks. Although there are also communities of renunciates, including fully ordained female monks, monastic authorities in Thailand have never officially recognized the ordination of women and bhikkhunis do not yet enjoy the same level of societal acceptance as their male counterparts.

*Engaged Buddhism: INEB hosts historic interfaith gathering in Bangkok for gender equality and social justice (BDG)

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

Leave comments