Thailand on the Brink of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: A Milestone for "Equality"
Thailand on the Brink of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: A Milestone for

Thailand is poised to make history as lawmakers prepare to vote on legalizing same-sex marriage, which would make it the first country in Southeast Asia to recognize marriage 'equality'.

On Tuesday, Thai senators will meet to discuss and vote on the proposed legislation. If passed, the bill will proceed to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for royal assent. The law is expected to take effect 120 days after its publication in the official Royal Gazette, potentially allowing the first same-sex weddings by October.

Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, a member of parliament from the progressive Move Forward Party and a prominent advocate for marriage equality, expressed his excitement. "Today is the day that Thai people will smile. It is a victory for the people," he said. "Today it finally is happening in Thailand."

Tunyawaj, along with other MPs and supporters, posed with a rainbow banner to celebrate this significant moment.

The legislative session began at 9:30 am (0230 GMT), and a final vote is expected later in the afternoon. The new law will replace gender-specific terms like "men," "women," "husbands," and "wives" in marriage laws with gender-neutral terms. This change will grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, including adoption and inheritance rights.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community, has shown his backing for the bill. He plans to host a celebration at his official residence after the vote, inviting activists and supporters. Later, activists will hold a rally in central Bangkok featuring a drag show. Many of the city's shopping malls have been flying rainbow flags in solidarity since the beginning of Pride Month in June.

Thailand has a reputation for being tolerant of the LGBTQ community, and recent opinion polls indicate strong public support for marriage equality. Since the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, over 30 countries worldwide have followed suit. In Asia, only Taiwan and Nepal currently recognize marriage equality, with India coming close in October before its Supreme Court referred the decision back to parliament.

Tuesday's vote is the result of years of persistent campaigning and previous unsuccessful attempts to pass similar laws. Despite widespread support, traditional and conservative values still hold sway in Buddhist-majority Thailand. While LGBTQ individuals are highly visible in society, they continue to face discrimination and barriers in everyday life. Some activists have also criticized the new legislation for not addressing the rights of transgender and non-binary individuals, who still cannot change their gender on official documents.

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