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Thailand’s upper house of parliament on Tuesday passed a bill that will legalize same-sex marriage in the Southeast Asian nation, making it the third country in Asia to do so, CNN reported.

A majority of lawmakers voted in favor of a marriage equality bill that will grant LGBTQ couples the same rights and recognition as heterosexual ones. The draft law will extend welfare entitlements, tax benefits and rights related to inheritance and adoption.

The bill still needs approval from the Thai king, but this process is considered a formality. It is expected to take effect in 120 days.

LGBTQ advocates hailed the bill as “a monumental step forward for LGBTQ rights in Thailand,” with some couples hoping that the legislation will cause a “domino effect” in other countries.

Efforts to pass a marriage equality bill in Thailand had stalled in the past, with the country’s constitutional court ruling in 2020 that Thai law – which specifies that marriage is between a man and a woman – was constitutional.

Still, many major political parties, including Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s Pheu Thai Party, had vowed to push for a marriage equality bill during last year’s parliamentary elections.

Observers explained that the bill makes Thailand an outlier in a region that has been slow to give more rights to members of the LBGTQ community, who face discrimination and, in some cases, violence.

Currently, Taiwan and Nepal have legalized same-sex marriage in the past five years.

Meanwhile, the marriage equality bill comes as Thailand makes its third attempt to join the United Nations Human Rights Council, according to Nikkei Asia.

Bangkok lost its second attempt for a seat on the UN body following a 2014 military coup.

Now under civilian rule, Thailand is facing scrutiny over the imprisonment of political dissidents and youth activists under the country’s strict lèse-majesté laws that punish individuals insulting the royal family.

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