Valentine’s Day 2015 will be infamous for more than the release of the film version of 50 Shades of Grey. It also witnessed the world’s first recorded polygamous gay marriage, as Joke, 29, Bell, 21 and Art, 26 tied the knot. Watchers of The Hangover Part 2 will not be surprised to learn that the marriage took place in Thailand, in the Uthai Thani Province.
The threesome did not undergo a state ceremony, since Thai law does not recognize same-sex marriages or polygamy, but the trio claims that their union is sanctioned by Buddhist law. Buddhism is notoriously short on rules and does not forbid polygamy, though Buddhists are counseled to limit themselves to one wife. Buddhism has no official teaching regarding homosexual practice, other than prohibiting it for celibate monks.
Reports state that Art and Joke met through business and became romantically involved in 2010, shortly after which they began living together. The couple later met Bell at a party, and started spending time together. When Bell was later “hospitalized with a congenital disease,” Art and Joke proposed the three-way marriage.
According to Art, “When Bell was in hospital, it became clear that we all had a lot of feelings for each other. We thought what better way to show our love for each other by getting married. It might seem strange to some, but many people understand our bond and the reasons we got married.”
Joke said in an interview that he considers same-sex marriages to be equally valid to any state-sanctioned ones.
“Now Thai society has a better understanding of sexual orientation as many same-sex weddings appear on TV, newspapers and social media, we feel more accepted and able to come out,” he said.
Joke also said the threesome “love each other and live together like brothers,” something he hoped the world could understand.
For his part, Bell has said that although some people may not agree with the trio’s decision, “we believe many people do understand and accept our choice. Love is love, after all,” he said.
Though homosexual marriage is illegal in Thailand, a member of a panel drafting a new charter for the national constitution has said that the amended text will include the term “third gender,” referring to those who identify themselves as transgender, transsexual or gay.
The spokesman for the panel, Kamnoon Sittisamarn, said the new measure would guarantee equal treatment under the law for all sexual identities.
“We are putting the words ‘third gender’ in the constitution because Thai society has advanced,” Sittisamarn said.
“There are not only men and women, we need to protect all sexes. We consider all sexes to be equal,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.