Gay marriage by Christmas say Thai activists

The long road to gay legal equality moves slowly forward in Thailand.

Now that the House of Representatives has voted by a two thirds majority to endorse single-sex marriage, there is a strong chance of law liberalization by the end of 2022. This is according to the Thailand Gay and Sexual Diversity Alliance which has worked with the Move Forward Party in the Thai parliament.

In November 2021 the country’s constitutional court ruled against gay rights by certifying that clause 1448 of the civil and criminal code restricted marriage to a man and a woman. However, the judges did say it was open to parliament to pass contrary legislation to undo the discrimination.

Although the House this week supported a change in the law, members did not formally vote on the first reading but passed the documentation to the Cabinet for a 60 days review. However, there is known to be support there for gay political rights as the Cabinet endorsed the general principle in July 2020.

The issues now are whether the Cabinet will accept full equality with heterosexual marriage or will water down the proposals to favour civil unions which do not have exactly the same safeguards. For example, civil unions would likely restrict pension rights of gay partners and might make adoptions more problematical.

Another fly in the ointment is the unstable political situation at present. If the House was dissolved and a general election called, legislative procedures might be called off or reduced substantially. However, TGSDA is cautiously optimistic about a 2022 timescale as the next general election is penciled for March 2023.

Thai social media has been alive with hot discussions about gay political prospects. Many posters pointed out that gay retirees over 50 would only need 400,000 baht in the bank, rather than 800,000 baht, if they chose to marry their Thai partner before applying for a one year extension stay at the immigration bureau. Money and sex just refuse to be separated.