Despite winning the most seats in the nationwide poll the youth-oriented Move Forward and its leader Pita Limjaroenrat were then blocked from taking power, with the military-installed Senate unwilling to allow them to pursue an agenda that included amending Thailand’s controversial royal defamation laws.
Four months later, however, Thavisin’s coalition government has put marriage equality back on the table. His Pheu Thai party had also backed it during the election and he had supported Bangkok’s bid to host World Pride 2028.
Termsak Chalermpalanupap, the head of the Thailand studies program at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said Thavisin wanted to appeal to the younger generation of voters who showed their hand at the ballot box this year.
“In the election campaign it was put forward by the Move Forward Party and they received a lot of support from the young voters. So now the government coalition just want to seize the opportunity,” he said.
Under the amendment to marriage law, “men and women” and “husband and wife” would be replaced by “individuals” and “marriage partners” and same-sex partners would have the same rights as heterosexual couples, AP reported deputy government spokesman Karom Polpornklang as saying.
Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said if it passed in its proposed form it would be a positive move for Thailand.
“I think it has broad social support,” he said. “No one is really very opposed to this except maybe some Islamic minority groups in the deep south.
“Very clearly, Thailand is ready for this. I think this will be a huge victory for human rights and really liberating for the large LGBT community that’s here and has felt that they were getting close to the finish line and never getting there.
“If they go through with it, they’ll get a lot of praise. This has been promised for a long time. It’s a huge step forward.”
There may be pushback to same-sex marriage from within the old guard in the upper house of Thai parliament, but they can only stall the bill, not stand in its way.
It is another election pledge of Pheu Thai – the populist digital wallet scheme – that may cause the government more trouble. Under the plan, more than 50 million Thais will receive a 10,000 baht ($432) handout, but its rollout has already been delayed by three months amid questions about its wider economic consequences.
“The conservatives are more concerned about the digital wallet,” Chalermpalanupap said.
“That’s the bigger issue that could make or break the prime minister.”
– with Reuters and AP
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