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Amnesty calls on Thai parliament to pass marriage equality bill

As the Thai parliament debates bills amending the Civil and Commercial Code to allow marriage registration regardless of gender, Amnesty International calls for the immediate adoption of this law and for the final version of the legislation to grant equal rights and legal recognition to LGBTQ couples as heterosexual couples.

Responding to the introduction of bills in Thailand’s Parliament today that aim to recognize same-sex marriage, Amnesty International Thailand Researcher Chanatip Tatiyakaroonwong said: 

“By potentially becoming the third place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, Thailand has the opportunity to set a bold example for LGBTI people’s rights in this region. These bills and the debates in Parliament over them represent a moment of hope for LGBTI people’s rights in Asia, even though there is still much to be done for their full protection.  

“The final version of this draft legislation must not water down calls for the full spectrum of the right to family life, including access to adoption and inheritance for LGBTI couples, as well as the legal recognition of same-sex couples as ‘spouses’ on an equal footing with different-sex couples. 

“As LGBTI activists have systematically demonstrated, efforts to broaden rights for LGBTI people don’t go nearly far enough to ensure equal rights guaranteed under international law. These bills set Thailand on a new path that could right those wrongs.

“If legislation passes on first reading, Thailand’s Parliament should build on the momentum and prioritize the immediate adoption of this law, taking note of the celebratory reaction as a sign that the country is hungry for equality. Lawmakers in Parliament should continue to demonstrate to Thailand’s LGBTI community that they are listening and valuing their voices, wishes and perspectives. 

“Guaranteeing full marriage equality in law not only sends a message to the rest of the region but to the rest of the world, at a time when countries all over the globe are changing outdated laws and building more inclusive societies.” 

Background:

On 21 December, the lower house of Thailand’s Parliament began debating a package of bills proposed by the cabinet, the opposition Move Forward Party and civil society organisations. If passed, same-sex marriage will become legal in Thailand. The bills need to go through multiple readings and stages of approval before becoming law. When that will happen remains unclear. 

Amnesty International supports comprehensive and inclusive legislation that guarantees equal rights to LGBTI people across all spheres, including in marriage, and encourages lawmakers to come to an agreement on a draft bill that is in line with international human rights standards. 

Thailand passed the Gender Equality Act in 2015 aimed at providing legal protections against gender-based discrimination, including unfair treatment of LGBTI people. However, the law still allows for the justification of discrimination against LGBTI people for religious or national security reasons. Meanwhile, there is still no legal gender recognition allowing transgender and non-binary people to legally change their title or gender on official records.  

In November 2021, Thailand’s Constitutional Court reaffirmed the status quo by ruling that laws recognizing marriage only between a man and a woman do not violate the Constitution. But it also said that Thailand’s lawmakers should draft laws to guarantee rights for gender-diverse people. 

Taiwan remains the first place in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage in 2019. This year Nepal became the second and in November local authorities registered the first same-sex marriage. 

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