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Thailand’s Lower House Passes Bill to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

The bill was supported by all the major parties.

LGBTQ Pride parade in Bangkok, Thailand, June 4, 2023. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters/File via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — Thailand’s House of Representatives voted to legalize same-sex marriage on Wednesday, bringing the Southeast Asian nation a step closer to becoming the third territory in Asia to guarantee equal marital rights.

The lower house of parliament passed the bill following a third and final reading, with 400 representatives voting in favor. Only 10 members opposed the bill.

The bill still requires approval from the Senate and endorsement from the king before marriage equality can become reality in Thailand, a process that could still take months.

If passed into law, Thailand would be the first nation in Southeast Asia to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

It would also make the country only the third place in Asia to allow for marriage equality after Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in 2019 and Nepal in 2023.

“We are now writing a new Thai history that will change Thai society forever,” Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, a member of the amendment committee told parliament Wednesday.

“The social situation has changed, and it is time that the law should catch up with the current situation.”

The marriage equality bill that passed in the lower house Wednesday was supported by all the major parties and marks a significant step in cementing the country’s reputation as one of the friendliest in the region toward gay, lesbian, and transgender people.

However, the reality, according to some members of the LGBTQ community, is different. They say laws prohibit discrimination, but they still regularly face prejudice and even violence in Thailand’s conservative society.

Previous attempts to legalize marriage equality over the past decade have stalled. In 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that Thailand’s current law, which stipulates marriage being between a man and a woman, was constitutional.

Some of the major political parties contesting last year’s election pledged to push marriage equality as part of their campaign, including the progressive Move Forward Party, which won the most seats.

But that party, which had a huge youth following, was unable to form a government when former rivals joined forces to keep it out of office. Both the future of the party and its popular leader Pita Limjaroenrat remain uncertain as they face a slew of prosecutions.

Nonetheless Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, of the Pheu Thai Party, had also promised to bring the marriage equality bill to parliament.

The prime minister, who struck a deal with more conservative factions to form a government, has also reportedly voiced support for Bangkok’s bid to host World Pride in 2028.

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