Thailand took a step towards marriage equality Wednesday as lawmakers gave initial approval to legalising same-sex unions, prompting celebrations outside the parliament building.
It is a significant landmark in a Buddhist-majority country with a highly visible LGBTQ community but whose members still face major barriers and discrimination.
The legislation must clear several more hurdles before becoming law. If it succeeds, Thailand would be the first country in Southeast Asia to recognise same-sex unions.
The lower house approved two bills that would allow same-sex marriages and also two others that would permit civil partnerships.
A committee of lawmakers will now scrutinise the bills in detail and consolidate them into two proposals, to give MPs a choice between backing civil partnerships and full same-sex marriage.
After the vote a small but enthusiastic group of activists celebrated noisily outside parliament, weeping, hugging and waving rainbow flags.