A positive development for the LGBTQ+ travel community, Greece and Thailand have become the latest countries to recognise same-sex marriage. Rose Dykins reports

Thailand and Greece have both legalised gay marriage – meaning it’s now legal for same-sex couples to marry in 36 countries.

Thailand has become the first South East Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, with a landslide parliamentary vote in favour. The bill gained 147 votes in support, with just four votes against it, and seven abstaining. The legislation will also change references to “men”, “women”, “husbands” and “wives” in the marriage law to gender-neutral terms.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said he was “proud of our pride” after the bill was approved. Writing on X, he said: “The passing (of this law) in the parliament today is a proud moment for Thai society who will walk together towards social equality and respect differences.”

In Asia, only only Taiwan and Nepal currently recognise same-sex marriage. In 2023, India‘s highest court deferred the decision to parliament, and Hong Kong‘s top court stopped just short of granting full marriage rights.

Meanwhile, Greece has become one of the first Orthodox Christian countries in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. The bill was approved by 176 out of 300 lawmakers in the nation’s parliament. Despite members of the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ centre-right New Democracy party abstaining or voting against the bill, it gained enough support from the country’s left opposition party.

The step forwards for Greece’s human rights record is still dividing opinion, due to the powerful influence of the Orthodox Church in the nation, which strongly opposes same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, many LGBT citizens feel the bill doesn’t go far enough – particularly since it doesn’t extend the right to surrogate pregnancies for LGBT people (although it does recognise children already born via this method abroad).

The news about Greece and Thailand will be welcomed by the global queer travel community. As same-sex couples and queer families are forced to be much more discerning and thoughtful about where they visit to ensure they won’t encounter homophobia, a country’s legal recognition of gay marriage should signal a move towards a more progressive stance – and a more positive, safer holiday experience for more people.

In 2023, Globetrender launched its first The Future of Queer Travel report, which identifies eight trends that will shape the future of travel for the LGBTQ+ market. Globetrender also created a new Queer section on its website for LGBTQ+ travel content to help consumers become better informed.

Globetrender’s founder, editor and CEO, Jenny Southan, said: “Over the past ten years, the queer travel market has grown enormously… By 2030, experts predict that travel spending by queer travellers could reach US$568.5 billion.

“Why? Firstly, queer travellers are more intrepid and hungry for travel than ever before. Secondly, in many cases they also have more disposable income. And thirdly, the population of people who identify as queer is increasing. In 2021, a landmark UK Census revealed that 6.9 per cent of Gen Zs identified as LGB+ compared with 3.5% of Millennials, and 1.6% of Boomers.

“For the travel industry, this is a clear indication of distinct market opportunities (particularly among people under the age of 45). It is also an urgent call for better understanding and appreciation of this growing and richly varied consumer group.

“In terms of progress for LGBTQ+ human rights, there are steps forward and steps backwards….homosexuality is still illegal in 67 countries. In 2023, the president of Uganda signed one of the world’s toughest anti-LGBTQ laws, but at the same time, Latvia welcomed the modern world’s first openly gay president.

“At Globetrender, we are optimists. We strongly believe in travel as the ultimate expression of freedom, and a unifying force that brings people closer together.”