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Thailand Legalises same-sex marriage in landmark bill

Thailand approves same-sex marriage in landmark bill

Thailand has become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, in a historic parliamentary vote.

The Senate Upper House 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.

“We are very proud of everyone involved in this historic moment. You have helped to bring about a massive change,” Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, an LGBTQ activist and member of the committee that scrutinized the law, told senators after the vote.

“Today love wins over prejudice.”

Ahead of the vote, Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, an MP with the progressive Move Forward Party, said the change in the law was “a victory for the people.” The new legislation changes references to “men”, “women”, “husbands” and “wives” in marriage laws to gender-neutral terms.

It also gives same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual ones when it comes to adoption and inheritance.

“My partner has one boy and I want to have legal rights to formally adopt him as my child and to have a say about his well-being. This bill will allow it,” Kevin Pehthai Thanomkhet, 30, told AFP.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who has been vocal in his support for the LGBTQ community and the bill, has announced she would open his official residence to activists and supporters for celebrations later.

More than 30 countries around the world have legalized marriage for all since the Netherlands became the first to celebrate same-sex unions in 2001. But in Asia, only Taiwan and Nepal recognize marriage equality.

 

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