A lesbian couple weds in Thailand. The country is one of the most exciting destinations for same-sex weddings

Same-sex weddings in 2024:
Thailand, Greece and others say yes to equality


If you’d asked us about the world’s top destinations for same-sex weddings just 20 years ago, we’d have pointed you towards the Netherlands and Belgium, the only two places where ‘gay marriage’ was legal then. But by now, another 36 countries have said yes to equality – and the most recent additions to the list might just have you want to elope.

At OutThere, we’ve always had a profound love of Thailand, as witnessed not only in our first-ever issue, Amazing Thailand, but also in our more recent Thailand Rediscovered anniversary issue. Each step along the way towards marriage equality in the Kingdom gave us reason to cheer, and after years of back-and-forth, Thailand is now officially legalising same-sex marriage, making it the first Southeast Asian country to do so. Though the historic law still requires backing from the King, this final step towards it becoming a reality is widely considered a formality. Once approved, the legislation will become effective within 120 days.

There are arguably few (if any) countries with greater hospitality than Thailand, making it perhaps the most exciting of new destinations for same-sex weddings. Welcoming visitors runs in the blood of Thai society, and the national tourist board’s LGBTQ+ branch, Go Thai. Be Free, is testament to how tuned into the unique needs and preferences of queer visitors the country has been long before marriage equality was ever even on the horizon.

Of course it helps that Thailand also just so happens to be home to postcard-worthy beaches, mouthwatering cuisine and glistening Buddhist temples that provide a spiritual backdrop against which any wedding ceremony would only seem more magical (as well as – and we can vouch for this – some of the most escapist and luxurious resorts anywhere). But beyond this, the news of marriage equality arriving in the country also put a smile on our face because it suggests a wider recognition of LGBTQ+ rights across other parts of Asia.

In fact, Nepal beat Thailand at becoming the continent’s second country to legalise same-sex weddings on the 24th of April (the first was Taiwan in 2019). The Nepalese ruling remains somewhat provisional, however, with many legalities around inheritance, adoption rights or tax subsidies continuing to be unclear. Those who keep abreast of news from the Himalayan country will nonetheless get the sense that it’s committed to creating greater equality for all. Innovative businesses, for one, are making a difference for queer locals by creating job opportunities and lobbying for greater diversity, equity and inclusion.

How a country treats its LGBTQ+ citizens is no longer simply about said community, or national ideas about relationships and family, but also about how it wants to position itself internationally. Eager to be perceived as progressive, many destinations look towards those parts of the world that have long embraced equality: Canada, South Africa, Sweden and the like. Asia, home to economies that have seen a stratospheric rise in wealth over the past few decades alone, is now more globally connected than ever, and its wide-ranging international ties in politics and trade will inevitably lead to a review of traditional values back home. It’s true that Thailand, whose economy has long relied largely on tourism from the global West, is only the third Asian nation to legalise and perform same-sex weddings. But voices calling for equal rights are getting louder in similarly connected countries like Japan, or eternally ahead-of-its-time Bhutan.

Yet you’d be mistaken to think this is a matter of the world looking towards the West. In Europe, too, some countries have only recently introduced same-sex marriage, with Estonia taking the step on the 1st of January this year. It’s not hard to see symbolic value in the move at a time when the small Baltic nation seeks to further align itself with Europe, and edge away from Russia. Though, original and welcoming as Estonia may be as a wedding destination, unless both spouses have lived in the country for a minimum of six months, a rather unromantic amount of bureaucracy means couples likely won’t be eloping there anytime soon.

The other European nation to have legalised same-sex weddings in 2024 is Greece, a forever-favourite destination amongst queer travellers. Having been a hotspot for weddings for years, Greece makes it decidedly easier for foreigners to get married locally (and its stunning archipelago means you can simply stay on for the honeymoon). Though while Mykonos and Santorini seem like obvious choices, the more recently developed destination of Costa Navarino lures with a more discreet and authentic offering in the southwest of the Peloponnese.

Same-sex weddings can be held across a number of local sites and hotels, including Navarino Hills, where guests sit amidst olive trees, or at The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort. Perhaps the best-suited venue of all is W Costa Navarino, which became the first hotel anywhere in the world to receive official accreditation by the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), a recognition of its elaborate inclusivity practises. The resort can set up barefoot weddings on its 450-metre beach facing the Ionian Sea while EWOW villas with private pools and the brand’s Whatever/Whenever service provide just the luxury you’d want for your special day – or, well, days!

There’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to same-sex weddings in 2024. While challenges remain, and we must never take for granted the rights entire generations of queer people have fought for, a wave of willingness to extend previously held ideas – namely, that marriage is between a man and a woman – has positively swept across the globe since the Netherlands became the world’s first country to legalise what was then coined ‘gay marriage’ in 2001. With changing ideas about gender and the renaissance of alternative relationship constellations (think throuples), further change for one of history’s oldest institutions might just be on the horizon. In the meantime, equality is already confirmed to arrive in one more country: Liechtenstein, the tiny Alpine microstate, is on track to introduce same-sex marriages on the 1st of January 2025.

www.gothaibefree.com | www.costanavarino.com

Photography by Martin Perry, courtesy of Go Thai. Be Free and courtesy of Costa Navarino

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