The Thai parliament is set to begin deliberating four draft bills on same-sex marriage, moving the country closer towards its legalisation with the first vote on the bills expected later on Thursday.
The deliberation comes after parliament last year debated similar draft laws and the previous government’s same-sex civil union bill, but did not come to a final vote before the session ended.
The four draft bills being deliberated on Thursday include one tabled by the new government that came to power after the May general election, another by civil society groups, and two others from opposition Move Forward and the Democrats parties, all of which bear similar approaches.
“In principle, this draft law is for the amendment of some provisions in the civic codes to open the way for lovers, regardless of their gender, to engage and get married,” Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsuthin told parliament about the government’s draft bill.
“This will provide rights, responsibilities and family status as equal to the marriage between a man and a woman presently in all aspects,” he said.
Somsak said the government conducted a survey between Oct. 31 and Nov. 14 that showed 96.6% public support for the draft bill.
Thailand has one of Asia’s most open and visible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities but many political activists say the country’s laws and institutions have yet to reflect changing social attitudes and still discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples.
If the draft laws are approved in parliament’s first reading on Thursday, they could be tabled for final reading votes early next year, which could make Thailand the third place in Asia, after Taiwan and Nepal, to recognise same-sex marriage.