BGA Director Kevin Cottrell and the Thailand Team wrote an update to clients on Parliament’s passage of the Marriage Equality Act.


  • Thailand’s House of Representatives on March 27 passed the Marriage Equality Act, which replaces gender-specific terms in marriage laws with gender-neutral terms. More than 10 years in the making, the bill’s passage comes days before the start of the traditional Thai new year and water festival known as “Songkran” — a massive, month-long tourism-boosting event that the government hopes will stimulate the struggling economy. The bill now moves to the Senate, which will likely make a decision before its term ends May 10. If passed, the legislation will take effect 120 days after royal endorsement.
  • Although the bill provides equal marital opportunities for all couples, parliamentarians were unable to agree on changing references to “a father and a mother” to a nongendered term, an issue highlighted by the MFP and civil society. This will potentially stall efforts to create equal rights on family-building efforts, such as adoption and surrogacy. These issues will likely be addressed via separate motions to amend the country’s surrogacy and adoption laws.


  • The bill passed with significant multiparty support, with only 10 opposing votes. Legalization of same-sex marriage has been included in numerous parties’ platforms for more than a decade. Two draft bills passed their first reading in 2022 before the 2023 general election. The final act built off of drafts submitted by the Pheu Thai-led Cabinet, the progressive opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) and civil society.
  • Although the passage of the Marriage Equality Act showed Parliament’s ability to cooperate, significant divisions remain among parties, with the state of democracy at risk. The Election Commission submitted a request to the Constitutional Court March 12, asking for the MFP’s dissolution. The party, which won a plurality — 30 percent — of seats in the 2023 election, is now being targeted for its proposal to amend section 112 of the constitution. Party members had hoped an amendment would prevent abuse of the country’s strict lese-majeste law for political purposes. The MFP has substantial popular support around the country, especially in Bangkok, and its dissolution would lead to considerable public backlash.


  • Passage of the law is a major public relations boon for Thailand as the Pheu Thai government led by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin seeks to stimulate Thailand’s economy with foreign revenue sources such as tourism and trade. As only the third country in Asia to pass a marriage equality bill and the first in Southeast Asia, Thailand gains points to improve its image as a progressive, welcoming society, following more than a decade of military and conservative rule. This could help boost Thailand’s competitiveness relative to regional neighbors and create new opportunities to attract individuals with niche skills and a high net worth.
  • The ruling Pheu Thai Party will likely undergo leadership changes that could lead to a Cabinet reshuffle as former ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was recently pardoned by the king from criminal charges and returned to civil life, reenters the political fray. The Pheu Thai Party managed to come to power despite gaining the second-most seats in Parliament. The party brokered a deal with its former adversaries to stand against the progressive MFP, painting it as a threat to the constitutional monarchy. Although a change is not expected before the Songkran holiday, the Pheu Thai Party would likely implement any Cabinet changes before the Senate term ends May 10. After such time, the Senate will no longer play a role in the prime minister’s selection.

We will continue to monitor developments in Thailand and update you accordingly. If you have any questions or comments, please contact BGA Thailand Managing Director Teerasak “Art” Siripant at

Best regards,

BGA Thailand Team