Legal Corner: Dramatic Changes That the New Marriage Equality Law in Thailand Will Make

The Marriage Equality Bill in Thailand, which has passed the lower house of parliament, is a significant step toward recognizing equal rights for marriage partners of any gender. If it becomes law, here are some major changes it will bring according to our partners at Issan Lawyers, who regularly help contribute to legal related articles here at The Pattaya News.

1. Gender-Neutral Terminology: The bill aims to revise Section 1448 of Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code, commonly known as the “marriage law.” It will replace the terms “husband” and “wife” with the more inclusive term “spouse.” Additionally, the bill proposes replacing “man” and “woman” with the term “person”.

2. Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Unions: Thailand will become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. This recognition will grant equal rights and responsibilities to couples regardless of their gender.

3. Publication in the Royal Gazette: After approval by the Senate and endorsement by His Royal Majesty the King, the bill will be published in the Royal Gazette. It will then become law after a waiting period of 60 days. During this time, same-sex couples can officially marry and enjoy legal protections.

4. International Recognition: By legalizing same-sex marriage, Thailand will join the ranks of countries such as Taiwan and Nepal in Asia that recognize equal marriage rights. This move will elevate Thailand’s standing in the eyes of the world.

5. Elimination of Gendered Language: The bill’s draft has undergone adjustments to ensure that gendered language aligns with the current social context. Parliamentarians have worked to eliminate wording that might limit rights for LGBTI+ persons, particularly those in same-sex couples with children.

Overall, the Marriage Equality Bill represents a significant milestone in Thailand’s journey toward greater inclusivity and equal rights for all couples, regardless of their gender identities.

Besides the major changes related to marriage equality, the Marriage Equality Bill in Thailand introduces several other legal modifications:

1. Gender-Neutral Language: The bill amends 68 provisions of Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code. It replaces the existing terms “husband” and “wife” with the more inclusive term “married couple.” This change ensures that LGBTQ couples have equal legal status and rights.

2. Inheritance Rights: Same-sex couples will now enjoy inheritance rights equivalent to those in heterosexual marriages. This means that assets and property can be passed on to a spouse without discrimination based on gender.

3. Adoption Rights: The bill grants same-sex couples the right to adopt children. This significant step ensures that LGBTQ families have the same legal opportunities to create and raise families as heterosexual couples.

4. Medical Decision-Making: With the new law, same-sex spouses will have the authority to make medical decisions for each other. This includes situations where one partner is incapacitated or unable to provide consent.

5. Recognition of Foreign Marriages: The bill acknowledges same-sex marriages performed abroad. Couples who legally marry in other countries will have their unions recognized in Thailand, granting them legal protections and rights within the country.

These changes collectively promote equality, eliminate discrimination, and enhance the legal standing of LGBTQ individuals and couples in Thailand.

LGBTQ+ activists in Thailand have expressed both hope and concerns regarding the Marriage Equality Bill. While they celebrate the progress toward equal rights, they also highlight areas where the bill falls short. Here are some of their concerns:

1. Incomplete Protections: Although the bill legalizes same-sex marriage, some activists argue that it doesn’t provide comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. They believe that additional provisions are needed to safeguard against discrimination in various aspects of life, including employment, housing, and healthcare.

2. Parental Rights: The bill does not explicitly address parental rights for same-sex couples. Activists emphasize the need for clear legal guidelines regarding adoption, custody, and parental responsibilities. Ensuring equal rights for LGBTQ+ parents is crucial for family stability and well-being.

3. Transgender Rights: While the bill focuses on marriage equality, it does not specifically address the rights of transgender individuals. Activists advocate for broader legal recognition and protections for transgender people, including name and gender marker changes on official documents.

4. Religious Opposition: A small faction of religious MPs has expressed opposition to the bill. Concerns arise from conservative viewpoints that may hinder its smooth passage. Balancing religious freedom with equal rights remains a contentious issue.

5. Implementation Challenges: Even if the bill becomes law, its effective implementation may face challenges. Activists worry about bureaucratic hurdles, societal acceptance, and ensuring that same-sex couples can exercise their rights without obstacles .

In summary, while the Marriage Equality Bill represents significant progress, activists continue to advocate for a more comprehensive legal framework that addresses the diverse needs and rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Thailand.

Consider reaching out to Issan Lawyers, contact information below, for assistance with any problems you may have had or questions regarding legal matters, including marriage, which is a major step in life and should involve consulting a reputable lawyer.

Isaan Lawyers specializes in providing legal services for expats and overseas nationals in Thailand.

For more information, visit Issan Lawyers here.

*Disclaimer: This article provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. Consult with a qualified attorney for personalized guidance.*

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Adam Judd
Mr. Adam Judd is the Co-owner of TPN Media since December 2017. He is originally from Washington D.C., America, but has also lived in Dallas, Sarasota, and Portsmouth. His background is in retail sales, HR, and operations management, and has written about news and Thailand for many years. He has lived in Pattaya for over nine years as a full-time resident, is well known locally and been visiting the country as a regular visitor for over a decade. His full contact information, including office contact information, can be found on our Contact Us page below. Stories please e-mail About Us: Contact Us: