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Thailand paves the way for same-sex marriage

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This Wednesday, the Thai parliament gave its first reading of its agreement to same-sex marriage. The deputies will have the last word and can still authorize only civil unions. On the spot, LGBTQ+ activists are celebrating this news, but are cautiously awaiting the final decision.

Thailand’s parliament on Wednesday gave first-reading approval to same-sex marriage, an important step for the highly visible but still heavily discriminated against LGBTQ+ community in the conservative kingdom. The lower house has approved consideration of several bills: two allow same-sex marriage and two others allow only simple civil unions. A parliamentary committee will examine them in detail, then the deputies, after a long legislative process, will decide between the two options.

A small group of activists have already welcomed this milestone for the LQBTQ+ community by gathering in front of parliament. Some, in tears, waved rainbow flags. “I’m very happy, it’s a good sign, MPs are finally voting for equality,” LGBTQ+ activist Nada Chaiyajit told AFP. “But there is still a long way to go.” The kingdom, with a Buddhist majority, remains very conservative.

The fight continues

“On the ground, there is still a lot of work to do to change mentalities and convince parliamentarians,” reacted Ryan Figueiredo, representative in Thailand of the Equal Asia foundation (Equality Asia). He worries that parliamentarians may end up approving only civil unions, which do not confer the same rights as same-sex marriage.

“It would only be a meager consolation prize that would amount to making the LGBTQ+ community a completely separate class,” he warned. In early June, Thailand celebrated its first LGBTQ+ pride march in nearly 16 years, with thousands of activists taking to the streets of the capital to demand the adoption of same-sex marriage, among other things.

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