The marriage of Maitri Chotipinit and Chirasak Klangboriboon who have been dating for four years was blessed by Udon Thani city Mayor Itthipon Triwattanasuwan in the presence of the couple’s family members and friends Aug 3 night.
As he gave the couple a traditional Thai blessing, the mayor joked that he was very nervous at first because he did not know which person should be addressed as “bride” or “groom,” according to en.khaosod.co.th.
Jokes over, the mayor praised the couple Maitri and Chirasak for coming out.
“Your wedding is a brave action,” Itthipon told the newlyweds, “You are brave for expressing yourself to society. It is a good example for other gay couples.”
Maitri, a curator at Udon Thani Municipal Museum, said his and his partner’s families welcomed the idea of them marrying. He first met Chirasak, who was a college student at the time, when he visited the museum he was working in, said Maitri.
The marriage is largely symbolic as Thai laws do not recognize same-sex marriage or civil partnership. Nonetheless many Thai gays and lesbians publicly marry their partners and live as couples.
Recent moves to draft a same-sex marriage law received much bipartisan support before it was unfortunately sidelined more because of the ongoing political crisis than any serious social opposition to same-sex couples marrying.
A bill in parliament for acknowledging marriage equality was stuck because of the prolonged fluid situation of current Thai politics which saw parliament’s dissolution, a general election that was nullified and a civilian government removed by a military coup.
Thailand is a relative haven of legal tolerance for the LGBT community in a region where surrounding countries such as Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore criminalize same-sex relations with fines, imprisonment and social censure.
Both male and female same-sex relations are legal and Thailand officially and openly markets itself as a gay-friendly tourist destination. But the LGBT community is not without its problems as a recent Unesco and Mahidol University study showed a high percentage of LGBT students in Thailand being bullied, verbally, physical and even sexually abused.