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Bangkok, Thailand at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace at dusk. Thailand just legalized same-sex marriages.

It’s official! On Wednesday, the Thai Cabinet at Bangkok legalized same-sex unions. While the bill still has to pass through parliament to become official, there’s no reason to assume it won’t. However, there is a small catch to the bill, and one that may be a deal-breaker for those planning an adventurous elopement to Thailand. Read on to learn what it is.

Thailand Approves Same-Sex Marriage, But There’s a Catch

The bill only has to pass in parliament for Thailand to become the second country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriages, and offer adoption rights and joint property ownership.

Taiwan was the first country in the Asian continent to legalize same-sex partnerships, while Vietnam decriminalized same-sex marriages, even though they don’t actually recognize them.

Ratchada Thanadirek, a deputy government spokeswoman, shared in a Facebook status.

The Civil Partnership Bill is an important step for Thai society in promoting equal rights and supporting the rights of same-sex couples to build families and live as partners.

Same-Sex Unions Recognized in Thailand Come with a Small Catch

Of course, there’s a catch to all of this. In order to legally marry in Thailand, one of the partners needs to be a Thai citizen. This means that couples of different nationalities won’t be able to go and marry in Thailand. That puts a damper on LGBTQ couples dreaming of eloping to the beautiful country.

Even though Thailand is one of the most accepting countries towards the LGBT community, they weren’t able to approve the law initiated in 2018 until now.

Another important aspect of this new law, is the fact that in Thailand, marriages are only between men and women, so they accept same-sex unions as civil partnerships.

When asked how this will affect new couples, the president of Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, Kittinan Daramadhaj, said:

Civil partnership’ shouldn’t distract from the fact that it’s about the legal registration of unions.

Meaning that regardless of what they’re called, same-sex unions have the same rights as any married couples of Thailand. In other words, gay couples can finally adopt kids in Thailand. The country’s law specifies that only married couples can adopt, but considering that marriage itself is a ‘civil partnership,’ we’re keeping a positive mind!

Thailand considered one of the most LGBTQ-friendly Asian countries

Even though the stereotypes about Thailand keep going, there are a few less-knows facts about the country.

As a country with a very rich culture, it can be hard to find open people in the rural parts of the country. Of course, in the big cities it’s very easy to find LGBT-friendly pubs, hotels and resorts, and it’s perfectly fine to be open about your sexuality in public.

Unfortunately, while Thailand is fairly open-minded regarding gay and lesbian couples, they have a long way to go before they fully embrace transgender people. Right now, Thailand doesn’t allow a legal gender change. So, many transgender men and women actually have to leave their hometowns and move to more accepting cities.

Also, Thailand- like many Asian countries- has very specific ideas about how women should act. Lesbian women find it particularly challenging to break free of these gender expectations and often remain “in the closet” rather than risk shame.

The community is trying to push equal rights, and it can be seen in the annual transgender beauty pageants, held in two of Thailand’s biggest cities. In general, it’s just as safe for LGBT people to travel to Thailand, as it is for any other people from around the world.

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