Thailand makes history as first Southeast Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage

It is also just the third nation in all of Asia to have marriage equality, following Taiwan and Nepal.

People in Thailand celebrating the legalisation of same-sex marriage. A big group of people fly Pride flags in the streets.
Image: @ltwlauren via X

Thailand has made history as the first Southeast Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. The bill was approved by the nation’s parliament on Tuesday, June 18, with 130 MPs voting in favour, four against, and 18 abstentions.

The move will see gender-neutral language introduced to Thailand’s marriage laws, replacing references to “men”, “women”, “husbands” and “wives”. It will further grant same-sex couples the same adoption and inheritance rights as those of their heterosexual counterparts.

While the new law will also apply to transgender people, they will still be recognised as their sex assigned at birth as the country lacks a system for legal gender recognition.

Having passed its final reading in the senate’s upper house, the legislation will now go to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for royal assent. It will then come into effect 120 days after publication in the official Royal Gazette.


The landmark moment comes after over a decade of work from activists and politicians, with previous drafts failing to reach parliament. It also makes Thailand just the third country in all of Asia to approve same-sex marriage, following Taiwan and Nepal.

To celebrate the news, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, LGBTQ+ ally and supporter of the bill, is set to open his official residence to activists and community members later. There is also a rally planned in central Bangkok, which will feature a drag show surrounded by giant shopping malls that have been flying rainbow flags since the start of Pride Month in June.

“Today is the day that Thai people will smile. It is a victory for the people,” Move Forward Party MP Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat commented. “Today it finally is happening in Thailand”.

“We’re all just really excited,” 18-year-old activist Plaifah Koyka Shodladd said ahead of the vote. “I can feel the whole world is cheering us on.”

“Although Thailand has been known as the gay paradise or the queer paradise, it was never really the actual paradise for queer people. But once we have this bill it will open so many doors,” Plaifah continued.

“We have been waiting for this moment for so long,” expressed Tinnaphop Sinsomboonthong, a queer scholar and assistant professor at Thammasat University. “Let’s say it’s the symbol of the new change and the new transformation happening in south-east Asia.”

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