Thailand’s Prime Minister announced that his Cabinet has approved a bill on marriage equality and expect it to be debated in parliament next month, moving the country one step closer to potentially becoming the first in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
A government spokesperson said at a press briefing in Bangkok on Tuesday that the proposed amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code would replace terms like “men and women” or “husband and wife” with the words “individuals” or “spouse”—which would allow same-sex couples to receive the same rights as heterosexual couples.
While Thailand has long been known for its vibrant LGBT culture, the country’s laws still provide little recognition to same-sex couples, who lack equal rights on matters like child adoption and marriage. In 2021, the country’s constitutional court ruled that the existing marriage law, which only recognizes heterosexual couples, was constitutional, but it also urged the parliament to draft laws that included the rights of queer people.
Marriage equality is a rare social issue that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has prioritized since taking office in August. The premier has avoided touching more contentious issues—like the country’s controversial royal defamation law that the popular Move Forward Party that was thwarted from taking power sought to reform—in favor of focusing more on reviving the domestic economy and attracting foreign investment.
“I believe that everyone should be entitled to equal rights, regardless of their gender,” Srettha said in a post on X in October, adding that he has hopes for Bangkok to host the WorldPride events in 2028.
Last year, Thailand’s parliament debated a marriage equality law, which received initial approval from lawmakers but did not come to a final vote before the session ended. If the new bill is approved by both the legislature and the country’s monarch, Thailand will become the first country to recognize same-sex marriage in Southeast Asia, a region heavily influenced by religious and social conservatism. Gay sex was only decriminalized last year in Singapore, and across Asia, only Taiwan and Nepal have legalized same-sex marriage.