Thailand becomes the first Southeast Asian nation to guarantee equal rights to marriage

(BANGKOK, June 18, 2024)—Today, the Act for Amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code, commonly known as the marriage equality bill, passed the final vote in Thailand’s parliament, guaranteeing the right to marriage and all affiliated rights for LGBTI+ couples in Thailand. Thai authorities should take proactive steps to ensure the immediate implementation of the law once it is enacted, said Fortify Rights.

“Thailand’s new marriage equality law is a triumph for justice and human rights,” said Mookdapa Yangyuenpradorn, Human Rights Associate at Fortify Rights. “The journey to this point has been long and fraught with challenges, but today’s vote to ensure marriage equality marks a historic moment that deserves celebration.”

The Thai Senate passed the marriage equality bill in its final reading, with 130 senators voting in favor, four opposing, and 18 abstaining. Earlier, on March 27, 2024, Thailand’s House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 400 to 10.

The bill will now be submitted to the Prime Minister, who will request royal assent from the King. After the bill is published in the Royal Gazette, it will officially become law after 120 days.

The final version of the bill replaces the terms “husband” and “wife” with the term “spouse,” and “man” and “woman” with “person” in multiple sections of the Civil and Commercial Code. This revision is not only a change in terminology but provides LGBTI+ couples with equal access to marriage, welfare, child adoption, healthcare consent, property co-management, inheritance, and access to spousal benefits such as tax deductions and government pensions. The new law also includes a provision to ensure LGBTI+ couples who marry are immediately guaranteed all affiliated spousal rights and addresses child marriage by raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 years old.

Article 23 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee the right to found a family without discrimination. The principle of non-discrimination is also considered a fundamental right under customary international law binding on all states. Section 27 of the Constitution of Thailand similarly prohibits all forms of discrimination.

“The Thai government must now focus on ensuring swift and effective implementation of this law to safeguard LGBTI+ rights,” said Mookdapa Yangyuenpradorn. “Marriage equality is fundamental to human dignity, and it is essential that Thailand protects these rights without delay or discrimination.”

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