When Thailand’s same sex marriage bill was blocked by a panel of Constitutional Court judges on Thursday, the LGBTIQ+ community was devastated.
Many believed that the bill would finally be taken seriously. But the LGBTIQ+ community’s doubts were confirmed when the court judges dismissed it. Activists say the ruling signals that Thailand’s conservative elite is still not ready to offer them equal rights.
Nattawut Buaprathum, deputy party leader of Move Forward Party, told Thai Enquirer that it seems like it’s still going to take more time.
“The court ruled citing section 1448 of Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code, that only marriage between men and women is constitutional,” Nattawut says. “But they also agreed that Thailand is becoming more diverse.”.
Section 1448 under the constitution says that only men and women above the age of 17 are able to marry.
Nattawut added that for over 70 years, gender has been designated based on sex given at birth. But he said that today, many modern countries have strongly endorsed gender diversity.
“People can undergo surgeries to change their gender or make their own choices.”
For Nattawut, this moment is not only frustrating, but confusing. He noted that the nation needs to take the LGBTIQ+ calls for equality seriously. He says it doesn’t make sense that there is legislation proposed to endorse gender-diverse people. But then the proposed changes get held back by an outdated way of viewing gender.
“The terms ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in the code should instead refer to ‘person’ or ‘people,’” Nattawut said.
It’s a view that most people within the LGBTIQ+ community have. Most gender rights activists feel that Thailand is still stuck in an archaic past when it comes to gender equality. They feel it’s about time that the rest of the country catches up to modern norms.
Nitchanat Sudlapa, founder of Ruam Thai United Party and the first transgender model from Thailand to walk in New York Fashion Week, took to Facebook to voice her opinion on the vote.
“Today is another day to mark in Thai history on gender equality,” she says. “
“Homosexual couples still don’t have the right to marry.”
Nitchanat went on to say that the Thai government is using gender-diverse people as a tool to promote the country, but they instead ignore their struggle for rights, continuously pushing a two-gender system.
“Where is our place in society? Do we get to live equally?”