Court decision to push back marriage equality ruling goes viral, prompts criticism

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday said it would move its ruling on marriage equality to December prompting a viral hashtag and online criticism.

The ruling has been postponed multiple times by the Constitutional Court since it was due to make a decision on the case in 2017.

While the majority of parliament, including those on both sides of the aisle, support marriage equality, the court has so far been unwilling to rule in favour of same-sex marriage.

Its latest decision to postpone its ruling has sparked a viral hashtag which as of Wednesday morning has been mentioned at least half a million times.

The hashtag #สมรสเท่าเทียม (marriage equality) was used to criticize the Constitutional Court for being out of touch and for shedding light on why marriage equality was important.

Existing laws

In 2015, Thailand enacted the landmark Gender Equality Act that made gender-based discrimination illegal.

Over five years since the bill has become effective, it is still struggling to find its feet. According to a 2020 UNDP study, authorities have never punished any entities using this particular law – even in the face of growing cases of gender discrimination directed at LGBTQI individuals. 

The Act also has an exceedingly limited scope, one that falls short of anything close to ‘gender equality.’ In fact, the Act is primarily focused on “gender discrimination,” something it defines as “dividing, obstructing or limiting any direct or indirect privilege without fairness” on the grounds of gender.  

It is focused on negative rights – the right to be free of discrimination – rather than any positive rights such as the LGBTQI right to civil partnership or marriage.

With additional reporting by Jasmine Chia and Pongnut Thanaboonchai

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