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Tomorrow (27 March), the marriage equality bill will return to parliament for its second and third readings. Meanwhile, the human rights organization Fortify Rights has called on parliament to ensure that the bill provides equal rights to LGBTQ people.

Participants in the 2023 Bangkok Pride Parade carrying a large rainbow flag past the Siam shopping district. (File photo)

In December 2023, the Thai parliament passed the first readings of four bills proposing amendments to the marriage law to allow registration of marriage regardless of gender. The bills were passed to a 39-person ad-hoc committee, whose combined draft will be returned to parliament for the second and third readings.

If passed, the marriage equality bill will allow LGBTQ couples to legally register their marriage and be given the same rights and recognition as heterosexual couples. It would also make Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia to recognize marriage for all.

Fortify Rights, which served as an advisor to the committee, said that parliament will consider whether to include the gender-neutral term “parent,” in addition to the terms “mother” and “father,” to the bill, noting that the committee did not include such changes in the draft it will return to parliament.

As a result, committee members representing civil society organizations decided to reserve their opinions. Under the Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives, expressing reservations means they will be entitled to conduct a debate on the issue “unless a contrary decision is made by the assembly.”

Fortify Rights Human Rights Associate Mookdapa Yangyuenpradorn said that to ensure all rights extend to LGBTQ people, “shortcomings” in the committee’s version of the bill should be addressed. She called on parliament to eliminate gendered language present in the draft that may limit the rights of LGBTQ people, especially couples with children.

“While the Thai parliament should urgently pass the marriage equality bill into law, it is crucial to ensure in the bill that LGBTI+ persons are guaranteed all rights and protections without discrimination,” said Mookdapa.

“This bill presents an opportunity for Thailand to eliminate laws that discriminate against LGBTI+ persons once and for all.”

Meanwhile, Move Forward Party (MFP) MP Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, Deputy Chairperson of the ad-hoc committee, said he is sure that the bill will be approved. He said that it is a good thing that every sector of the society approved of the bill and that it is the “first door to open toward building gender equality in Thailand.” However, he said that there are other issues to work on, including gender recognition.

While Tanyawaj said that MFP believes LGBTQ people should be entitled to form a family, the party believes that other legislation, such as laws on gender identity and the protection of children born via reproductive technology, should also by amended so that LGBTQ can “become fathers and mothers,” as well as determine their own legal identity. He also noted that LGBTQ couples will be allowed to adopt children under the marriage equality bill.

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