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Thailand passes landmark Bill recognising marriage equality

Thailand passes landmark Bill recognising marriage equality
LGBTQ+ advocates called the move a "monumental step forward".
PHOTO: Reuters

BANGKOK —?Thailand on June 18 became the first country in South-east Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, in a historic parliamentary vote hailed as a "victory" by campaigners.

The Senate gave final approval —?by 130 votes to four, with 18 abstentions —?to changes to the marriage law allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot.

The new legislation will now go to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for royal assent and come into force 120 days after publication in the official Royal Gazette.

Thailand will become only the third place in Asia where same-sex couples can get hitched, after Taiwan and Nepal, and activists are hoping the first weddings could be celebrated as early as October.

"Today is the day that Thai people will smile. It is a victory for the people," Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, an MP with the progressive Move Forward Party, told reporters ahead of the vote.

"Today it finally is happening in Thailand."

LGBTQ+ advocates called the move a "monumental step forward" as it would make Thailand the first country in South-east Asia to enact marriage equality legislation.

Thailand is already known for its vibrant LGBTQ+ culture and tolerance, making it a popular destination for tourists.

"This would underscore Thailand's leadership in the region in promoting human rights and gender equality," the Civil Society Commission of marriage equality, activists and LGBTI+ couples said.

The Bill is the culmination more than a decade of effort from activists and politicians, after previous drafts did not reach the Parliament.

At the start of June, thousands of LGBTQ+ revellers and activists held a parade through the streets of Bangkok and were joined by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who wore a rainbow shirt to celebrate Pride Month.

ALSO READ:?Hong Kong LGBTQ activists upset at revised ID card gender rules

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