Significant legal and visa implications for gay marriage in Thailand

Gay marriage will affect foreign tourists and expats as well as Thais.

Subject to the likely agreement of the Senate and the 120 days waiting period prior to implementation, gay marriage will be operational in Thailand in 2025. Although the new law is essentially designed to grant equality to two Thai nationals of the same sex, there will be a sizeable number of expats wanting to marry their Thai partners.

Jessataporn Bunnag, a Thai lawyer based in Pattaya, said, “Longstay gay foreigners will be able to apply for the one year spouse visa which currently requires 400,000 baht in the bank or the equivalent in foreign income, plus other documentation and an immigration police visit to confirm residence and relationship.” However, Mr Bunnag added that another option for foreigners over 50 years was the retirement visa and annual extension of stay which, though less bureaucratic, requires 800,000 baht or monthly income.”

Thailand already allows two foreigners (neither being a Thai) of the opposite sex to register their marriage at the amphur office, subject to both receiving an affidavit from their respective embassy in Bangkok. After the new law is introduced, this civil facility will also be available for two gay foreigners, men or women, to cement their relationship. Many Thai temples already hold ceremonies for gay couples. Formal marriage here of two same sex foreigners is likely to grow in importance in future years as Thailand is famous as a gay-friendly destination.

On the negative front, Mr Bunnag said candidates for gay marriage must also understand Thai laws on divorce. “Gay marriages will break up as easily as straight ones,” he stressed. Currently, heterosexual partners can visit the amphur office for formal termination providing they have agreed the settlement terms in advance. But if one partner has gone missing, has behaved badly or is uncooperative, a civil court order may be necessary which can take months. In general terms, property and assets bought since the marriage will be divided equally, though the detail can cause problems.

Thailand has long been a draw for same sex couples as it has a vibrant scene for both Thais and foreigners and, under the current Pheu Thai government, targets this market to attract increasing numbers of travellers. In 2028, Thailand is poised to become the heartbeat of gender inclusivity in hosting the LGBTQ+ worldwide summit. “It’s all looking very good,” concluded Thitian Chanmontri of the gay campaigning Rainbow Alliance.