Thai Constitutional Court ruling against gender diversity and marriage equality

By December 10, 2021 Advocacy, Newsroom, Policies

Chanan Yodhong
An academic specialising in Thai pop culture

The Thai Constitutional Court recently ruled on 7 November that section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code, stating that marriage is only between a man and woman, is not contradicting the Constitution. Do same-sex couples not deserve the same marriage rights as their male and female couples? The ruling cited that the primary purpose of a marriage is to create a family and reproduce new members into the society. According to the ruling, legally married same-sex couples will have access to welfare benefits like heterosexual couples which would increase the burden on the government to monitor the exercise of welfare rights and it would cause longer processing time and be unfair to the heterosexual couples. The verdict also included that the security of the state, public order and citizen’s morality can be affected as same-sex couples only wanted to benefit from state welfare and tax-deductions only.

This is the same Constitutional Court that once ruled that Thailand did not need a high-speed train and instead should pave the dirt roads first.

We have seen trends in other countries legalising same-sex marriage, and that marriage between only male and female couples is discriminatory. Chile recently became the 30 country to approve same-sex marriage.

Thailand often claims to be an LGBTQ paradise and is a destination for LGBTQ, especially in Bangkok and tourist cities, the 1980 edition of the Spartacus International Gay Guide, a travel book for LGBTQ, describes Thailand as a gay paradise. Thailand does not have laws prohibiting same-sex intercourse or a sodomy law since 1956.

However, the Thai state still does not believe that same-sex couples can marry and build a family.  With the Constitutional Court’s biased ruling, we cannot say that Thailand is truly the LGBTQ paradise. It is only a propaganda for promoting the state’s tourism and consumption.

The Thai Constitutional Court’s full verdict reflects gender biases, it does not accept the equal dignity of the people and it still discriminates against gender diversity as referred to the traditional framework that marriage is solely for reproduction. Moreover, the Court refers to the stability, public order and maintaining morality that are abstract and can be interpreted without boundaries, especially in times of undemocratic practices.

It is obvious that Thai people have lost the opportunities to develop their potential, lost the opportunities to access equally rights, benefits, and true democracy. However, the civil movement from the people will continue fighting to assert our rights and dignity through other channels such as legislative assembly, as well as amending the Constitution for equal marriage.

Find out more here:

A new blow for same-sex marriages

Full Constitutional Court ruling 20/2564 (in Thai):

There is currently a petition for equal marriage that has gained more than 250,000 signatories:

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