If you've ever been to Thailand, you'll know that it's home to one of Asia's most visible and colourful LGBTQ+ communities. Not only that, but as a tourist destination for sun-seekers and club-goers alike, it is loved and lauded by queer communities for a liberal and open approach to gay, bisexual and transgender travellers looking for a gay old time (pun intended). Actually, it's almost shocking that same-sex unions aren't officially recognised in Thailand—but that could be changing.
On Tuesday, lawmakers in Thailand approved a draft legislation of four different bills that could see the Kingdom move closer towards one day soon legalising same-gender marriages.
The four drafts propose that same-sex partners be granted the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts, like enabling couples to adopt children, manage assets together and have inheritance and heritage rights. The two government-backed bills endorsed a same-sex civil partnership law, and a civil partnership bill from the Democrat Party was also approved.
Another more liberal bill was proposed by the Move Forward Party that looks for straight-up marriage equality where gender terms would be replaced in existing laws to be inclusive of all. Should this bill eventually become a law, Thailand would only be the second country in Asia after Taiwan to do so. Taiwan became the first nation to recognise same-sex unions in 2019.
That said, the legislation must still clear several hurdles before becoming law. The next steps will see a committee of 25 lawmakers review the bills, and if passed, from there, they would put forward to MPs a choice between backing civil partnerships and a full approval of same-sex marriage.
"There is a long way to go," LGBTQ activist Nada Chaiyajit said to AFP after the vote, who were waiting outside parliament waving a rainbow flag.
"But I am very happy and glad; it is a good sign in pride month that there are MPs who want equality and vote for the bills."
"No matter who you are, there is a place for you in this country," said Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the Move Forward Party, who said the vote should give people hope.
The news comes just after Thailand's first official pride parade earlier this month, the first in 16 years. Marriage equality was one of the themes charging the energy powering the event.
It also follows the decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use, which has led to a smokey culture being formed in Thailand quite literally overnight. And we're not saying that a culture didn't already exist—cannabis culture has roots in Asia—we just mean a legal one.
Not that we needed any more reasons to love Thailand—several members of the Mixmag Asia team live and dance there, and in fact, this article is being written on a flight to Thailand—but the rapid progression of subcultures that are hugely relevant to the music industry has us especially excited. Now, if we could just see the clubs open past midnight…
[image via Lillian Suwanrumpha AFP]