Government leaders in Thailand will consider establishing marriage equality for all couples, according to a report from Voice of America.
The government this year will consider bringing the Life Partnership Bill in front of lawmakers in the Southeast Asian nation. The development comes after a series of public hearings and rallies held by LGBTQ activists at major population centers throughout the county.
Should this happen, Thailand would become the first country on the continent to legalize same-sex marriage. Voters in Taiwan last week killed a marriage equality referendum a couple weeks ago.
If the central government allows the bill to move forward, some experts predict it will be passed by lawmakers there before the end of the year.
But the South China Morning Postalso reports some in the activist community worry about the long-term consequences of the bill.
If passed, the bill will legalize same-sex marriages in a separate law rather than expanding the existing definition of marriage to recognize same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships.
"We need LGBTIQ to be included and not [to have] a separate law that creates second-class citizens," activist Matcha Phorn told the Post. Matcha fears the bill will leave same-sex partnerships subject to a change in status in the future.
But Voice of America spoke to Thailand citizens embracing the change, which will provide official state recognition of their relationships for the first time.
"Thailand is not as open as Western countries," said Patipant Chuthapun. "Now, we have the law, and our families have heard about it and they are starting to open their hearts for us."