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Thailand's senate passes landmark marriage equality bill

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Thailand's senate passed a bill Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage, setting it on course to become the third place in Asia with marriage equality, alongside Taiwan and Nepal, and the first country in Southeast Asia. 

The bill, which was passed by the lower house of Thailand's legislature in March, still needs the endorsement of the country's King Maha Vajiralongkorn, and publication in a government periodical, before it is formally passed into law.

"Today, love trumps prejudice," Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, 18, told The Associated Press.

Thailand's government said it would host a celebration of the passage of the bill, and supporters were expected to march through Bangkok.

Members of the LGBTQ community celebrate after the Thai parliament passed the final senatorial vote on a same sex marriage bill, in Bangkok, Thailand, June 18, 2024.  MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty

The bill changes gender-specific terms in Thailand's marriage laws to gender neutral ones, updating references to "husbands," "wives," "men," and "women" to "spouse" and "person," The Guardian newspaper reported. Under the new law, married couples, no matter their gender, will have the same rights in terms of inheritance, health care and adoption.

"Although Thailand has been known as the gay paradise or the queer paradise, it was never really the actual paradise for queer people. But once we have this bill it will open so many doors," Shodladd said, according to The Guardian.

"The Thai government must now focus on ensuring swift and effective implementation of this law to safeguard LGBTI+ rights," human rights activist Mookdapa Yangyuenpradorn told the AP. "Marriage equality is fundamental to human dignity, and it is essential that Thailand protects these rights without delay or discrimination."

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