AA Edit | Same-sex marriage: Thailand & India

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Thailand joins Nepal and Taiwan in granting marriage rights to same-sex couples, marking a significant shift in conservative Asian societies

A member of the LGBTQ community celebrates after the Thai parliament passed the final senatorial vote on the same sex marriage bill, at Government House in Bangkok on June 18, 2024. Thailand on June 18 became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, in a historic parliamentary vote hailed as a "victory" by campaigners. (Photo by Chanakarn Laosarakham / AFP)

Thailand joins Nepal and Taiwan as countries in Asia where same-sex marriage is legal. A bill legalising it cleared the Senate with an overwhelming 130-4 vote and 18 abstentions after having passed the House of Representatives with a 400 out of 415 votes in April. It will soon be law after it passes the senate committee and the constitutional court and goes for a royal assent from King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

This is a monumental step forward for a basically conservative society even if Thailand has always been considered a haven for gay couples in the region. The legislation also grants same-sex couples the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual couples, including inheritance rights, tax benefits and adoption rights.

It takes a lot of courage to defy conservative traditions even in a fast-changing world in which there has been far greater acceptance of sexual diversity. The granting of marriage rights recognises the issue as one of human rights.

A feature of the modern world, specifically in democracies, has been the fight for gender equality and not only in the binary sense of male-female. And those who consider themselves non-binary are the ones who would be celebrating most such victories as the one in Thailand.

We are not there yet in India where, however, LGBTQIA+ rights have been granted, including in the significant event of decriminalisation of homosexuality in a famous verdict in the Supreme Court in 2018. Same-sex couples do exist in the country without too many hassles except that they enjoy no inheritance rights, joint property ownership and adoption rights.

The one important point in a top court judgement on the issue was that the granting of recognition to same-sex marriage should come through the legislative route and not from the judiciary and it is up to Parliament to introduce such legislation. The country will probably see the light some day of the need to not only accept diversity but also to embrace it.