On Jun 15, the marriage equality bill won the support of a majority of lawmakers and sailed through its first reading in parliament with 210 votes in favor, 180 against, and 12 abstentions.
“It’s like we were able to open the first door toward marriage equality rights in Thailand,” says Nada Chaiyajit, human rights campaign advisor at Manushya Foundation. “Up until now, every draft that we’ve had in the past, had no chance to even be considered during the process.”
While there is certainly no guarantee the bill will be adopted, it is a good indicator of support. Polling has found wide public support for the bill.
The bill now goes back to the committee level for amendments before returning for a vote. It is vehemently opposed by some ultra-conservative lawmakers.
While the marriage equality bill did indeed pass the reading, three other bills on civil unions also passed, all with more votes in favor than the Move Forward Party’s progressive marriage equality bill.
“Having passed the first step is very meaningful. It brings hope and empowers those who have been working and fighting for equality.” says Nada. “We’ve been fighting for over a decade and we were starting to get tired, but this brought us some joy.”
The four civil partnership and marriage bills will be debated on by a 25-person committee, which will decide to send those—or a consolidated draft—for further legislation. There will be two more readings in the House, and then Senate approval.
Opponents of the government bills argue that this legislation falls short of full legal rights for LGBTQ+ people.
“However, at the same time, we also get to see who has come up against it, trying to get rid of this bill with their power.” says Nada.
The marriage equality bill will allow anyone of any gender to legally get married with the same rights as when a man and a woman get married.