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Thailand’s Historic Move: Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

Thailand’s lower house of Parliament has passed a groundbreaking bill to legalize same-sex marriage, marking a significant step towards equality in Southeast Asia. The legislation, an amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code, garnered overwhelming support in the House of Representatives.

Passage of the Marriage Equality Bill

  • The 500-member House of Representatives approved the “marriage equality” bill with a vast majority.
  • 400 lawmakers backed the legislation, while 10 opposed it, and five abstained or didn’t vote after a three-hour debate.
  • The bill is now slated for review by the upper-house Senate on April 2, followed by royal endorsement and publication in the Royal Gazette. Amendments will become effective 120 days after publication.

Key Provisions of the Bill

  • Same-sex partners aged 18 and above will be able to register their marriages, granting them rights to inheritance, tax benefits, and child adoption.
  • The legislation changes the legal definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two individuals,” and alters the status from “husband and wife” to “married couple.”

Impact and Significance

  • Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s administration has championed the bill, aiming to enhance Thailand’s reputation as an LGBTQ-friendly destination.
  • Thailand will join Taiwan and Nepal as one of the few places in Asia recognizing same-sex marriage and will align with approximately 40 other countries worldwide.
  • Despite previous setbacks, including a Constitutional Court ruling in 2021 and failed attempts at civil partnership recognition, LGBTQ activists have persevered in their fight for equality.

Tourism Boost and Economic Implications

  • Legalizing same-sex marriage is expected to positively impact tourism, a significant contributor to Thailand’s economy.
  • Before the pandemic, LGBTQ travel to Thailand generated approximately $6.5 billion, highlighting the potential economic benefits of this progressive legislation.

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