Opinion: An update and a thought on marriage equality

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Last week, Thailand’s Marriage Equality Bill passed through the lower house with flying colours, as well as the first reading of the upper house, effectively moving Thailand one step closer in legalizing same-sex marriage and the rights that come with it, one step closer in ensuring universal rights for all. And as things currently stand, the second and final readings of the bill is slated to happen by July, before it heads for royal endorsement, and is widely expected to become law before the end of the year.  

The passing of this bill comes at a time when many are disillusioned by the current state of Thai politics, at a time when young people are fast losing hope in the direction of the country and uncertain about their futures. Indeed the run of the mill household phrase is that Thai people are “bored of politics” or “politics is a dirty game” And that is why the success of this bill, at a time when the political environment seems so bleak, stands as a powerful demonstration of how, when done properly, the possibility for politics to have a profound and positive impact on the lives of the people. Thus, the passing of this bill is a victory of many sorts.

It serves as a vindication for the LGBTQ community in Thailand, in the long and winding road to realizing this day, plagued by false-hope and false-starts, by struggles and by setbacks. Indeed for them, this hard won bill could not have come fast enough, but the turmoil of Thai politics over the past decades meant the bill was often put on the back burner and shelved on numerous occasions, most recently last year prior to the 2023 general election. This bill commemorates the hard work of the activists, of allies and friends, through their persistence and perseverance, in their decades-long advocacy of not for more rights, but just the basic premise of extending equal rights to all. The right to live and love equally. It stands as an affirmation for the countless kids, who had to muster the courage to come out to their families and friends, and to many who had to endure the spite and the sneers along the way, but still kept standing tall and in quiet dignity in believing in who they were. And the success of the bill is also a recognition to their families and their friends, who proudly supported their pride with compassion and care, and stood just as firm alongside them.  

It stands as a victory for the country, which has long stood as a beacon for LGBTQ acceptance, a destination for transgender affirming care in Southeast Asia, and even as a renowned producer for Series Y films, yet has lacked the basic and tangible regulations and framework to guarantee their protections and rights. The passing of this bill finally proves that we as a country, slated to be the first in Southeast Asia and the third in Asia, are not just accepting and tolerant of our differences, but consecrates into law, our respect and embrace of all people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It is also a first step in the right direction in ensuring greater economic and structural inclusion for the LGBTQ community in the country. 

And finally, and most importantly, it is an affirmation of the rights for the millions of people across the country, granting them their most basic and fundamental freedoms. The right for two people to love, and be loved. The right for a couple to find fulfillment in the simple, yet immeasurable joy of a marital union, recognized and respected as the law of the land. The right to raise a family in quiet comfort and come home to the people they love. And beyond that, it is a resounding and unequivocal message to both the supporters and opposers alike, that despite the hope and heartache, the solace and the pain that got us to where we are today, LGBTQ people are just as worthy of the same dignity and respect, and that their love is no less important, no less equal, no less valid, than that of any other –  that love is love. 


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