Thailand’s Constitutional Court has rejected a plea for marriage equality.
The court ruled Wednesday that Section 1448 of the nation’s Civil and Commercial Code, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, does not violate the Thai constitution, the Washington Blade reports. The ruling, which had been postponed several times, came in response to a lawsuit by the Foundation for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights and Justice on behalf of a female couple who sought to have their marriage recognized by Bangkok civil authorities and were turned down.
The court did, however, write that Thai legislators “should draft laws that guarantee the rights for gender diverse people.”
Thailand’s Parliament has debated a civil unions bill in recent years, with some opposition coming from the LGBTQ+ community because civil unions fall short of equal marriage rights. Member of Parliament Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat has introduced a marriage equality bill.
LGBTQ+ activists were outraged by the court’s ruling. It makes the “government’s pledges to promote gender equality meaningless,” Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter.
“Love does not discriminate. To us, denying people the right to marry just because they are of the same sex equals denying someone one of their most basic rights,” Thai Twitter user Jaoyinggx wrote. “The world is changing; and it’s time for us to move forward and embrace that change.” The hashtag #EqualityMarriage was trending on Twitter in Thailand, local publication Coconuts Bangkok reports.
The decision “seems like discrimination within discrimination,” historian Chanun Yodhong said in an online panel discussion, according to Coconuts Bangkok. “It makes the institution of marriage look feudal and something bound only to male and female.”
LGBTQ+ rights group Free Gender Thailand and other organizations are planning a protest for November 28.
Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, becoming the first country in Asia with marriage equality. It is still the only one.