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IPPF Welcomes Thailand's Historic Step Towards Marriage Equality in Southeast Asia

The legislative shift will enable Thailand to recognise the marriages of partners of any gender aged 18 and older, extending comprehensive rights.

Kuala Lumpur, 28 March 2024 - The International Planned Parenthood Federation East, Southeast Asia, and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR) welcomes the historic move by Thailand's House of Representatives to pass a marriage equality bill, paving the way for the country to become the first in Southeast Asia to guarantee equal marital rights for same-sex couples.

The lower house of parliament approved the bill after a third and final reading, receiving landslide support. All major parties backed it, with 400 votes in favour and only 10 against. The bill now requires approval from the Senate on April 2, followed by the King's endorsement before it can be enacted. Having been over a decade in development, the law could come into effect within 120 days following the royal approval.

The proposed bill seeks to amend the Civil and Commercial Code by changing the definition of marriage from 'a man and a woman' to 'two individuals' and updating the legal terms from 'husband and wife' to 'married couple.' This legislative shift will enable Thailand to recognise the marriages of partners of any gender aged 18 and older, extending comprehensive rights that include inheritance, equal access to various tax savings, and eligibility for adoption rights, ensuring a broad spectrum of legal equality and protection.

Dr Nanthakan S. Woodham, Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Association Thailand (PPAT), a Member Association of IPPF, expressed enthusiasm and pride in response to the milestone. "This is significant because it legalises what we have been practising and advocating for so long – equal rights, equal treatment, and equal opportunities for all.”

"PPAT has always been at the forefront of this advocacy, implementing projects to raise awareness about gender equality and providing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to all, with a special focus on the LGBTIQ+ community," she explained. Efforts include engaging lawmakers, participating in public hearings, and utilising platforms to raise public awareness as part of its comprehensive sexuality education program, reaching thousands of young people.

"This will advance more access and availability of quality SRH services for LGBTIQ+ communities," she noted, adding that it will also help reduce stigma for both clients and clinics. 

This development would position Thailand as the third country in Asia to embrace marriage equality, following Taiwan's adoption of same-sex marriage laws in 2019 and Nepal's similar legislation in 2023.

"This legislative success marks a monumental step forward for LGBTIQ+ rights, with Thailand emerging as a regional leader in advancing equality. Bold actions and demonstrations of equality are sending a loud message to other countries in Southeast Asia. IPPF is committed to energising this wave of transformational change, advocating for a world where sexual rights are human rights, free from discrimination and stigma,” said Tomoko Fukuda, IPPF ESEAOR’s Regional Director.

"The recent progress in Japan, where the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of same-sex couples to crime victim benefits, marks a significant milestone. We believe such advancements will inspire further recognition and action across the Asia Pacific, fostering a broader movement for diversity, equality, and inclusion, creating a ripple effect across the region,” she added.

For the first time, Japan's top court ruled that same-sex partners of crime victims qualify for government benefits traditionally paid to bereaved family members, marking a landmark decision on Tuesday.

For more information and media enquiries, contact: 

Malarvili Meganathan, 
Regional Communications, Voice & Media Advisor,
East, Southeast Asia and Oceania Region

[email protected]