This Wednesday March 27, the Marriage Equality Bill passed the Lower House with 400 voting for and only 10 against. Although it still needs the greenlight from the senate and royal endorsement before it can be legalized, the process is expected to be completed in 2024—making Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia and the third country in Asia following Taiwan and Nepal to support the right to same sex marriage.
“It’s unreal to witness the history, and as a person who was a part of this movement and the select committee, I'm feeling extremely exhilarated,” says Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, an 18 year old a non-binary activist and member of the marriage equality ad-hoc committee representing civil society, affirming the significance of having the term 'parent' in this marriage equality legislation. “However, on the other side, I still have some dissatisfaction with how the results of the votes came out for the parental rights section, as it was one of the things we civil society representatives have been pushing.”
Marriage equality extends to spousal benefits like tax deductions and government pensions. Couples will also be able to make emergency medical decisions for their partner and adopt children.
With more work ahead, BK takes a look at the history of same sex unions in Thailand.



Activist Nathee Theerarojanapong tried to get married with his boyfriend in Chiang Mai but was rejected by the authorities. Consequently, the Thai Committee on Legal Affairs, Justice, and Human Rights of the House of Representatives began hosting hearings with support from the Thai National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice.


The Civil Partnership Bill was drafted during Yingluck Shinawatra’s time as prime minister. However, a year later, Prayuth Chan-o-cha, commander of the Royal Thai Army launched a coup against the government and the bill stalled.


A party representative from the Move Forward Party, Thanyawat Kamolwongwat, proposed the Marriage Equality Bill which gained over half of the votes in the House of Representatives. More than 50,000 citizens expressed their support for the bill via the parliament’s website.


The Constitutional Court unanimously decided that according to Section 1448 in the Civil and Commercial Code, a marriage could only be recognized between a man and a woman. In the same month, the “Paki See Rung” group opened a people’s petition via Support1448 to amend Section 1448 and received overwhelming support of over 360,000 signatures—the first 100,000 received in under 24 hours. 


In June, Bangkok Naruemit Pride Parade called for marriage equality. Once again, the Marriage Equality Bill and Civil Partnership Bill underwent several amendments and waited for approval. The Civil Partnership Bill was championed by the authorities, but it fell short of the rights guaranteed by the Marriage Equality Bill. Neither came to fruition and were sidelined. Parliament then dissolved for the 2023 Thai general elections. 


Despite winning more votes than any other party, the progressive Move Forward Party could not form a government due to objections from the Senate. Prime minister Srettha Thavisin of Pheu Thai and the cabinet approved a draft of same sex marriage law. Three additional drafts from the Move Forward Party, the Democrat Party, and the civil sector were taken into consideration and passed with a landslide vote of 369 to 10. 


The Lower House voted for the legalization of same sex marriage. But Parliament still hasn’t agreed with the civil society’s proposals to include the gender neutral term “primary parent.” During the next parliament meeting, the bill is set to be deliberated by the conservative leaning senators on April 1, 2, and 9. Afterward, if the bill receives a royal permission, the law will be effective within 120 days. 

Looking Ahead

The hashtag #สมรสเท่าเทียม (marriage equality) has been trending on X, formerly Twitter, and receiving mostly supportive comments. One user commented “Wow! Congratulations everyone and appreciate everyone who fought for it.” Under activist Panan Phan’s Instagram post showing her speech at the parliament this Wednesday, she adds, “Thank you for this historic moment. Thank you to everyone who is still together or has gone their separate ways to grow…we’ve really come a long way.”
One area still waiting for progress is that of the parent. Earlier this February, the parliament rejected the Gender Recognition Act which would have allowed trans and non binary individuals to represent their preferred titles on legal documents. 
“Marriage equality should not only allow legal marriage for all genders but also be an opening the door for individuals in the LGBTQIAN+ community to start their own families and be legally recognized by families, society, and law with dignity and justice,”  Plaifah tells BK.
Following this issue, the Lower House has yet to approve the Marriage Equality Bill’s suggestion to use the gender neutral term “parent” in place of “fathers and mothers,” a change that will support diverse identities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella to legally adopt children.
“Currently LGBTQIA+ family identities are “identity-less” within society and law,” Plaifah says, adding that current provisions in the Civil and Commercial Code only adhere to binary gender terms. “Our civil society representatives from the select committee have always affirmed the importance of having the gender-neutral term ‘parent’ in addition to ‘mother and father.’”