Opinion: Dear South Koreans and ASEAN Neighbors: Do Not Fear Thailand Embracing Same-Sex Marriage

A supporter holds a placard during a celebration of the approval of same-sex marriage bill at the Government House on June 18, 2024.
A supporter holds a placard during a celebration of the approval of same-sex marriage bill at the Government House on June 18, 2024.

Only hours have passed since the caretaker junta-appointed senate finally made the expected vote of approval to endorse Same-Sex Marriage Bill, making Thailand’s becoming the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize same sex marriage, when the impact from Bangkok was felt over 5,367 kilometers away in Seoul, South Korea.

Some South Korean netizens, upon reading the news carried out by its local press on social media, were outraged.

It is worth to quote some of these reactions, first reported by Matichon, the sister daily of Khaosod English, at length here:

“Southeast Asia is going crazy now too,” read one.


“I don’t think the mental illness of a minority is something that the majority can understand. Even if I go crazy. I have to keep it to a certain extent.”

“Ugh…. Dirty…”

“Everyone must oppose this for the sake of future generations.”

“Love is beautiful when it is between a man and a woman.”

“Our country must absolutely stop that evil law!”

“Idolatry, drugs, homosexuality… they will be ruined.”

“This is a law that should not be followed… Please come to your senses.”

“Don’t allow our country to end.”

“Thailand must be full of AIDS… I will never go there to play.”

“You get AIDS, you get monkeypox, you get all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases. Please, what’s wrong with queer people? Don’t try to come out of the shadows and into the light. It’s disgusting.”

“Our country must make sure this does not happen.”

Some then went on to criticize Kyunghyang Shimbun, a Korean newspaper, for reporting about this milestone in Thailand.

“Kyunghyang, what is the purpose of posting  this and as breaking news,” asks one netizen. “Don’t write articles like this. There are more countries that don’t allow it. And the media doesn’t even cover the many harmful effects caused by same-sex marriage,” says another.

Reading all these I could not help but feel truly sorry for the South Korean LGBT community. They will continue to be denied their equal rights for a long time, at least a generation, if not a century, considering the growth of evangelical Christians in South Korea.

Unlike evangelical Christians who insist the followers are loyal only to not just one God but one church, Thailand will serve as a bastion of tolerance in Southeast Asia and beyond.

We are moving towards embracing diversity, gender diversity in particular, and recognizing that gays, lesbians, trans, ladyboys, queers and others are human too, are normal, and it is wrong to deny them the same right to marry one another that the rest have.

Speaking as a non-LGBT person myself but a supporter of LGBT rights over the decades, I say you do not need to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community to respect their equal rights in all aspects – you just need to be human and understand that they are human too.

To our friends, brothers, and sisters in the ASEAN region, particularly the predominantly Muslim nations of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei as well as the predominantly Catholics Philippines, I say fear us not. We are not here to proselytize you or change your belief or way of life unless you yourself arrive at such a consensus by yourself.

Nevertheless, Thailand will serve as a place to compare, both the pros and cons, of full LGBT embracement. And for those LGBT people in neighboring ASEAN countries, in South Korea and beyond, who feel discriminated and repressed in your own society simply because of who you are and how you feel, do please come to Thailand to take a respite. We do not judge you as a freak, a mentally ill person, a pariah or a sinner but simply as just another human being and equal to us.


This is Thailand’s newest soft power. We will be an example of hope, tolerance, and respect for diversities and quietly hope one day, the rest of the region will recognize this as the right and humane path forward.

I end by saying gender diversity is not the only diversity in society, and I urge Thais, both LGBT and non-LGBT, to look around and beyond themselves and strive to accord the same human dignity and rights to migrant workers, homeless people, the urban, and rural poor, the ethnic minorities and other marginalized people as they certainly deserve nothing less.

Let the LGBT mottos of love wins spread to other people in Thailand and beyond.