LGBT Rights – Transgender Bill, Sec. 377, etc.

Thailand to become third Asian country to legalize Same-sex Marriage  


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Legalisation of same-sex marriage in Asian countries

Why in the News?

On Tuesday, June 18, the Marriage Equality Bill was approved by the Thai Senate, the upper house of Thailand’s National Assembly, with overwhelming support.

What does the Bill entail? 

  • Gender-Neutral Language: The bill replaces gender-specific terms such as “husbands” and “wives” in Thai marriage laws with gender-neutral terms like “spouse” and “person”. This change allows any two individuals, regardless of their gender, to marry each other.
  • Equal Rights: Same-sex couples will have the same rights as heterosexual couples in various legal and practical aspects, including:
    • Adoption rights: Same-sex couples can adopt children.
    • Inheritance rights: They are entitled to inherit property from their spouses.
    • Tax benefits: They will receive similar tax benefits as heterosexual married couples.
    • Legal decision-making: They can make legal decisions on behalf of their spouses, such as consenting to medical treatment.
  • Recognition and Protection: The bill ensures that same-sex marriages are legally recognised and protected, providing stability and legal security to LGBTQ+ couples in Thailand.
  • Public Support: The bill’s passage reflects growing societal acceptance and support for LGBTQ+ rights in Thailand. Public opinion has been largely positive, with significant cross-party support in the Thai Senate and lower house of the National Assembly.

What about other Asian countries?

  • Criminalization: Many Asian countries, beyond those mentioned (Thailand, Taiwan, Nepal), still criminalize same-sex sexual activity. This includes countries like Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, where laws derived from colonial-era penal codes often penalize homosexuality with imprisonment or fines.
  • Lack of Legal Recognition: Most Asian nations do not legally recognize same-sex marriages or partnerships.
    • Even in countries where same-sex relations are not explicitly criminalized, there is often no legal framework for marriage or civil unions for LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Legal Battles: In countries like India, legal battles continue as activists seek to overturn discriminatory laws and secure legal recognition for same-sex relationships, including marriage.
  • International Pressure: International human rights organizations and diplomatic efforts sometimes exert pressure on Asian governments to improve LGBTQ+ rights. However, progress is often slow and faces strong domestic resistance.

Note: Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in 36 countries (not including Thailand) globally, according to LGBTQ+ rights advocacy Human Rights Campaign.

Way forward: 

  • Legal Challenges and Reform: Support ongoing legal challenges in courts across Asia to overturn discriminatory laws and promote legal recognition of same-sex relationships. This includes advocating for legislative reforms that protect LGBTQ+ rights, including the recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions.
  • International Pressure and Diplomacy: Encourage international human rights bodies, governments, and diplomatic missions to engage with Asian countries diplomatically, urging them to uphold international human rights standards, including LGBTQ+ rights.

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