In Thailand, the law on same-sex marriage raises hope in Asia

A couple of men in wedding suits, perched on top of a wedding cake where the colors of the rainbow flag and elements of traditional Thai architecture mix. Nikkei Asia in its June 20 edition devotes its file At “Marriage equality milestone in Thailand”. “New law raises hope as fight for LGBTQI rights in Asia continues,” specifies, on the cover, the Japanese weekly devoted to Asian news.

Two days before the magazine’s release, the Thai Senate adopted the law on marriage equality, which had been passed by the lower house in March. It must come into force before the end of the year.

“This makes Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia, and the second Asian territory, after Taiwan, to legalize full and equal same-sex marriage rights.”

While, on the very day of this vote, the conservative circles in power in Bangkok have clearly taken back political lifethe question of marriage for all couples is surprisingly consensual: according to a survey carried out this month, cited by Nikkei Asia, 82.5% of those questioned affirm their support for the government project on marriage equality.

Religious conservatism, economic benefits

But “the path to marriage equality in Thailand has been rocky, explains the magazine. Passage of the bill was a hard-won victory after decades of advocacy by the LGBTQI community.”

This was particularly the case among the Muslim communities of Thailand, which represent 10% of a predominantly Buddhist population. As such, Nikkei Asia met Chatchai, 37, whose “Britney Spears’ love and preference for the company of girls was frowned upon by her strict Muslim parents”. But time has paid off:

“I am convinced that even the most conservative religious communities can change their minds when they see their loved ones living happily in the open.”

Outside the country, “The new arrival from Thailand emboldens LGBTQI rights advocates across Asia where, in many societies, homosexuality remains heavily stigmatized, if not illegal.”

Death penalty in the Sultanate of Bruneilife imprisonment Pakistan or to Bangladeshfourteen years of imprisonment in Papua New Guinea or to Solomon Islands… Religious conservatism, especially Muslims and Christians, “remain a major obstacle to tolerance towards LGBTQI people”.

Nikkei Asia emphasizes the economic benefits of the Thai law: “Attracting talented people from abroad and bringing Thailand’s large gay diaspora back to the country are among the business benefits offered by the law. Sectors such as tourism, real estate and healthcare are expected to benefit from an influx of LGBTQI tourists and retirees.”

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