270,000 demand marriage equality in Thailand after court ruling riddled with ‘homophobic tropes’

More than a quarter of a million people have demanded marriage equality in Thailand after its Constitutional Court refused to rule in favour.

Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled against same-sex marriage on 17 November, dealing a crushing blow to the LGBT+ community.

The decision was taken in response to a request by the Central Juvenile and Family Court, which received a petition from a female same-sex couple whose request for a marriage registration was turned down last year. 

The ruling states that Section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code, which only allows for a man and a woman to register their marriage, is not against the Thai constitution.

The Constitutional Court’s ruling was purportedly based on Thai custom, defining marriage as “the voluntary agreement between men and women to live together within the husband and wife relationship”.

Under this description, marriage’s purpose is cited as existing for reproduction, establishing families and continuing their lineage. The court described same-sex marriage as “sexual preference and attraction”, placing it outside of this definition.

The court also stated that its current position is based on marriage’s legal role in protecting men and women’s respective rights. A 12 page document has been issued, providing a full explanation behind the court’s ruling.

The verdict stated: “After weighing the benefits of making marriage a possibility for couples of the same sex, there is a net loss of benefits for both traditional unions between men and women, and same sex-couples.”

“Along with the loss of benefits, there will also be the destruction of the laws of nature and family unity, which are important foundations for society and the survival of mankind.”

In response to the ruling, a petition for marriage equality has begun circulating, amassing over 275,000 signatures so far. 

Some Thai legal experts have claimed that the verdict does not bar alternative routes to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

However, activists have expressed their concerns that the wording of the verdict could be twisted in future to prevent further advances in LGBT+ rights, or even to strip existing rights from the Thai queer community.

Human rights activist Guts Thorngrop Rodsavas points out his worries that pre-existing prejudice will be reinforced by the ruling.

“In the ruling, there [are] a lot of homophobic tropes and transphobic arguments,” he told PinkNews. “I feel like, coming from the court, this could make conservatives who hold these points of view think that their views are legitimate.”

Rodsavas added: “Thailand is always known as ‘Gay Paradise’, and even the tourist department in Thailand try to promote it [as such]. But it’s actually not like that here. We can’t be free, even in our own country; we can’t marry who we want.”