Prime Minister of Thailand Srettha Thavisin announced that he will introduce a marriage equality bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the country, and his cabinet would debate the bill next week.
If the bill receives cabinet’s approval, it will be brought before Thai parliament in December, Prime Minister’s spokesman said.
If the bill passes the legislature and becomes the law, Thailand would become the first country in Southeast Asia that legalized gay marriages.
None of Thailand’s neighbors recognize gay marriage or unions, with homosexuality punishable by imprisonment in both Malaysia and Myanmar.
The marriage equality bill proposed by Thai prime minister will likely face little opposition in parliament. Thavisin’s 11-party coalition supports the legislation, as does opposition leader Pita Limjaroenrat’s eight-party alliance, which promised to introduce a similar bill after winning the most seats in this May’s general election, but failing to form a government.
Thailand has a thriving gay subculture, however, the country’s laws are quite conservative, and do not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions.
Only two countries in all of Asia – Taiwan and Nepal – grant gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.
“I see this (bill) as important in order for society to be more equal,” PM Thavisin declared, adding that he would also introduce two more pieces of legislation; one allowing transgender people to change their gender on official documents, and another legalizing prostitution.
Currently, prostitution is illegal in Thailand, despite the fact that sex is sold openly in Thai bars and on tourist drags; and the government does not recognize sex changes, even though there are nearly 315,000 transgender people in the country.
With this year’s Bangkok Pride parade drawing more than 50,000 participants, Thai prime minister also said he would lobby for Thailand to host the 2028 World Pride festival.