Thai lawmakers have strongly approved a law banning same-sex marriage

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BANGKOK (AP) — Lawmakers in Thailand’s lower house of parliament unanimously approved a marriage equality law Wednesday that would make the country the first in Southeast Asia to legalize equal rights for couples of all races.

The law passed the final reading with the consent of 400 members of the 415 members of the House of Representatives present, 10 voted, two did not vote and three did not vote.

This law amends the Civil and Commercial Code to change the terms “husband and wife” and “husband and wife” to “individuals” and “married couple.” It would open access to legal, economic and medical rights for LGBTQ+ couples.

The bill now goes to the Senate, which normally rejects any legislation that passes the lower house, and then to the king for royal assent. This will make Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia to pass such a law and the third in Asia, after Taiwan and Nepal.

Danuphorn Punnakanta, a spokesman for the ruling Pheu Thai party and president of the committee that oversees marriage laws, said in Parliament that the amendment is for “everyone in Thailand” regardless of gender, and will not prevent homosexuals from having any rights.

“For this law, we want to return the freedom to (LGBTQ+ group). We are not giving them freedom. This is an important right that this group of people… has lost,” he said.

Lawmakers, however, did not approve the inclusion of the word “parent” in addition to “father and mother” in the law, which activists said would limit the rights of some LGBTQ+ couples to form a family and raise children.

Thailand has a history of acceptance and inclusion but has struggled for decades to enact equal marriage laws.

The new Pheu Thai-led government, which took office last year, has made marriage equality one of its main goals.

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