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🌈🤍 #YouthPowerDemocracy: X (Twitter) Space Recap “Progressing Towards Marriage Equality in Thailand: Expectations and Challenges for a More Inclusive Society.” 🇹🇭 LOVE IS A HUMAN RIGHT!


💌 On 13 February 2024, a day before Valentine’s Day, we hosted an X (Twitter) Space focused on #MarriageEquality in Thailand! In the coming months, the country could become the first in Southeast Asia to legalize marriage equality, ensuring that Love is a Human Right! The X-Space, titled “Progressing Towards Marriage Equality in Thailand: Expectations and Challenges for a More Inclusive Society,”, was moderated by LGBTIQA+ community member Phumjai “Ball” Krisintu and assembled a diverse array of guest speakers including advocates and experts from the LGBTIQA+ community, Youth Power Democracy activists, a government MP, and an opposition party MP! Among the powerful speakers were Tanruthai “Pim” Thanrut of Mokeluang Rimnam, Piputpong "Butae" Sriwichai of Young Pride Club, Thapanawat “Japp” Wongprakon of the Coalition of Innovators for Thai Youth (CITY),  Pheu Thai Government MP and Marriage Equality Bill Committee representative Akaranun ‘Golf’ Khankittinan, Move Forward Party representative MP Ekkarach ‘Jawjarn’ Udomumnouy, Marriage Equality Bill Committee youth representative Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, transgender rights activist and Mae Fah Luang Law School lecturer Nada Chaiyajit, as well as Thai LGBTIQA+ sex worker community representative Sirisak ‘Ton’ Chaited, who is also a valued member of the Manushya Feminist Board. 

 

🗣️This X (Twitter) Space served as a platform to discuss the Marriage Equality draft Bill and to remind everyone that Love is a Human Right!l 🇹🇭💪


WHERE ARE WE AT

🫶Thailand has long been recognized as open and welcoming to the LGBTIQA+ community, yet its legal framework has not evolved at the same pace as Thai society’s attitudes have. Persistent discrimination against LGBTIQA+ individuals and same-sex couples remains a significant challenge. However, a promising development occurred last December 2023 when Thai lawmakers took a noteworthy step toward legalizing same-sex marriage, passing four draft bills in their initial reading. This legislative progress brings Thailand closer to fully embracing marriage equality, a particularly significant move for a nation renowned for having one of Asia's most open and visible LGBTIQA+ communities. Thailand has the potential to become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize marriage equality! 🌟


🏳️‍🌈 If the proposed legislation is enacted and receives royal assent, Thailand will stand among progressive nations in Asia, becoming the third country, following Taiwan and Nepal, to officially recognize same-sex marriage. This transformative milestone holds the promise of reshaping societal norms and fostering inclusivity - even though the LGBTIQA+ community is defined by so much more than the law, protecting and recognizing the community under Thai law is essential in demonstrating that LGBTIQA+ rights matter. Also, it must be understood that recognizing LGBTIQA+ rights will further the state of human rights overall, because of the intersectionality of LGBTIQA+ issues with those of other marginalized groups.  Thus, improving legislation to safeguard LGBTIQA+ rights goes beyond just protecting this community;  it will also address the rights and well-being of women, children, sex workers, and all individuals in Thailand. LGBTIQA+ rights are human rights!✨


🤔 Missed our #YouthPowerDemocracy on Marriage Equality 🇹🇭 X Space? 

We’ve got you! 💪


Or scroll to keep on reading the perspectives of our amazing speakers as they share valuable insights and ideas about the diverse aspects and hopeful expectations surrounding our upcoming Marriage Equality bill. At Manushya, we firmly believe that their voices deserve to be heard! ⤵️



MP Akaranun ‘Golf’ Khankittinan, representing the Pheu Thai party and leading the Marriage Equality Bill Committee, began the session by offering an overview of the current status of the Marriage Equality Bill: 

  • “The essence of this legislation remains consistent with the previous committee's proposals, and it is currently undergoing scrutiny from all four drafts. The trend appears positive, but there are additional details that need further discussion. […] The active participation of the public sector in the committee is seen as a positive step, with hopes that this legislation will significantly alter the existing dynamics. It is deemed beneficial for the public sector to play a role in amending this law, and there is optimism that it will contribute to a more collaborative working environment.”


MP Ekkarach ‘Jawjarn’ Udomumnouy of the Move Forward Party noted that there are still around 10 more sections left to complete and review before the Parliament finalizes them, and provided additional details: 

  • The fundamental principle of marriage equality is a simple one – to restore the right to establish a family for everyone. Currently, the right to establish a family is limited to heterosexual couples, excluding diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Therefore, the proposed drafts presented by the committee, including all perspectives, align on this issue. [...] One notable advancement is in the area of engagements, where both men and women can now be both the proposer and acceptor in marriage, promoting greater gender equality.” 



As MP Jawjarn said, the main issue at hand is that all people should be allowed to get married and have families, including the LGBTIQA+ community as well as everyone else. Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, the youth representative from the Marriage Equality Bill Committee, further underscored that the bill’s significance extends beyond the LGBTIQA+ community, and caters to the whole of society: 

  • "Equal marriage [legislation] doesn't only advocate for LGBTIQA+ rights, but we are fighting for gender and social justice. It's not just about individuals with same-sex preferences or diverse genders having the ability to sign marriage certificates and get married. What we are advocating for also includes the protection of children, such as preventing child marriage. It truly encompasses everyone. We are pushing for legal changes that benefit all members of society, regardless of who they are." 


Moderator Phumjai Krisintu further enquired about the democratic, human rights, and economic aspects of the law's objectives. Tanruthai “Pim” Thanrut of Mokeluang Rimnam powerfully shared her feelings as someone with lived experience as a Thai LGBTIQA+ person, noting the stark difference between the experiences of LGBTIQA+ visitors to Thailand and the experiences of Thai LGBTIQA+ people.

  • “When there is a marriage equality law, it elevates various human rights, not just allowing any gender to marry. It encompasses many rights worth having, such as the right to adopt children. In terms of the economy, I hope to be the smallest contributor, but if you ask whether there is an impact, I think there is. Thailand is truly a sanctuary for the international LGBTIQA+ community, but it is hell for those who are Thais. However, if legal changes occur, there will be a simultaneous push for both human rights and the economy.” (q.3, 52.42 mins)



Here, Pim raises a critical discussion about whether the Thai government truly cares about Thai LGBTIQA+ rights and welfare, or if they are just perpetuating ‘Rainbow Capitalism,’ which is the act of capitalizing on LGBTIQA+ communities to boost the economy. Thapanawat “Japp” Wongprakon Japp of the Coalition of Innovators for Thai Youth (CITY) added to this, emphasizing how ensuring LGBTIQA+ rights and human rights for all would be good for the collective advancement of Thai society, which includes both the welfare of the LGBTIQA+ community and the Thai economy: 

  • Marriage equality laws have significant implications for human rights and democracy. It unquestionably grants all citizens in the country the ability to form families, support children, or marry, regardless of gender. If this law is passed, it can elevate Thailand's human rights profile globally. Economically, it will attract more interest from the international LGBTIQA+ community, potentially increasing tourism, such as organizing events like Bangkok Pride. This, in turn, can contribute to the improvement of the economy.” 


Mae Fah Luang Law lecturer and LGBTIQA+ activist Nada Chaiyajit reinforced the youth activists’ statements, and further reminded us of the importance of not exclusively centering Thailand’s economy in the conversation about LGBTIQA+ rights: 

“In terms of [the subject of] the economy…I do not think it should be at the forefront of considerations. If we want to improve our quality of life, the topics we should be centering should not be the ‘price’ of our lives, or the economy…but instead, we should be focusing on our welfare.



Nada’s words demonstrate how important it is for allies to listen to the experiences of LGBTIQA+ folks and center their welfare when it comes to advocating for their rights. On that note, Sirisak ‘Ton’ Chaited, our esteemed Feminist Board member and a representative from the Thai LGBTIQA+ sex worker community, added to this by noting that even though the non-LGBTIQA+ community has historically centered themselves in legislative matters, marginalized communities like the LGTBQIA+ community are often advocating for everyone to be included in their visions for the future, including non-LGBTIQA+ people. :

  • “We come to advocate for legal changes, not to maintain the status quo. It's essential to recognize that amending laws benefits everyone, not just the LGBTIQA+ community. Often, concerns are raised about potential impacts on the heterosexual community, but historically, the broader LGBTIQA+ community has also felt the repercussions.”  


It seems clear from all the above that broader Thai society can only gain from standing in solidarity with LGBTIQA+ advocates; after all, their work envisions a more equitable society for everyone. Piputpong "Butae" Sriwichai of Young Pride Club poignantly wrapped up our discussion with suggestions to the government for on they can make the law truly inclusive for everyone, and how they can present the new legislation in a transparent, educational, and respectful way, so that all Thais can understand the new developments: 

  • “The government needs to make the public see how this law relates to their lives and what benefits they will gain if it passes. It is about the connection between the law and the people. Additionally, what the government must do is create awareness among heterosexual individuals and foster an understanding that this law is not an encroachment on the rights of heterosexual individuals, as previously alleged.(q.5 1.33 hrs)


✊ Manushya Foundation stands in solidarity with all 🏳️‍🌈LGBTIQA+ 🏳️‍🌈 individuals, pro-democracy and human-rights activists, in Thailand, Southeast Asia, and across the world. The aforementioned events represent a milestone for Thailand’s LGBTIQA+ community and pro-democracy activists. We are now witnessing a pivotal moment in time where the Thai LGBTIQA+ community’s demands are becoming more recognized, after all of their hard work and many sacrifices. We humbly thank our speakers for their energy, for such an engaging X (Twitter) Space conversation, for their nuanced and empathetic words demanding accountability from the establishment, and their unshakable commitment to advancing democracy, gender equality, social justice, and the state of freedom of love and expression in Thailand. 


✊This X (Twitter) Space is part of our #YouthPowerDemocracy series, which aims to fortify the influence of the Thai youth activists spearheading pro-liberation, pro-democracy, and social justice movements in Thailand.


🎙️Intrigued? Listen to the full X (Twitter) Space!

👉Click here 👈listen to the full conversation recording!


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While you’re here, read more about Thailand’s democracy movement and our work to support democracy, combating dictatorship, fighting for corporate accountability and climate justice, and powering women leaders and youth movement, creating a safer, inclusive space online and offline for everyone ⤵️




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