FRIDAY, April 19, 2024

Equal Marriage Bill wins 147 Senate votes in first reading

Equal Marriage Bill wins 147 Senate votes in first reading

The Equal Marriage Bill sailed through the first reading in the Senate with 147 votes in favour, four against and seven abstentions.

The 158 senators attending also agreed to set up a 27-member committee to study the bill, which allows people of all genders to marry legally. The panel is expected to come up with suggestions in seven days before the bill goes into its second and third readings.

Once the bill passes through three readings in the Senate, it will obtain royal endorsement before being enacted.

Equal Marriage Bill wins 147 Senate votes in first reading

Senator Seri Suwanphanon was the first to take the floor during the deliberation on Tuesday and pointed out that equality issues have been covered in several versions of the Constitution. However, he said, gender diversity has yet to be fully accepted and protected by law.

“It’s time we accepted [gender-diverse] people and found ways of making them part of our society,” he said. “Several parties want this law to be implemented, but we will consider it based on logic, not public trends.”

Seri also called on fellow senators to devise measures to prevent social problems that might be caused by same-sex marriages, such as premature divorces.

After the voting was completed, Senator Pol Lt-General Sanit Mahathavorn proposed that the legal age for marriage under the bill be raised to 20 to prevent problems such as child abuse and sexual harassment.

He also asked fellow senators to allow the law to go into effect immediately after royal approval instead of waiting 180 days, as several same-sex couples are waiting eagerly to register their union under this law.

On March 27, as many as 399 members of Parliament voted in favour of the Equal Marriage Bill in the second and third readings, with 10 dissenting, two not voting and three abstaining.

This overwhelming support prompted opposition leader Move Forward Party, which had proposed the bill, to call it a victory for the LGBTQI+ community in Thailand and across the world.

If the law is enacted, it will make Thailand the first ASEAN nation and the third Asian nation, following Taiwan and Nepal, to recognise same-sex marriages.