Thailand’s new constitution will include references to a third gender for the first time.

A spokesman for the panel which is drafting the new constitution, Kamnoon Sittisamarn, said this was to ensure all sexual identities would be protected and treated equally under the law.

He told Reuters: “We are putting the words ‘third gender’ in the constitution because Thai society has advanced.

“There are not only men and women, we need to protect all sexes. We consider all sexes to be equal.”

Thailand is famous for having a large and vibrant LGBT community, particularly trans and gender non-conforming people. It allows trans people to change their legal gender, but does not currently allow same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage was discussed in 2012, with legislation being drafted, but was put on hold as the country struggled with political instability.

Gay activist Natee Teerarojjanapongs said of the proposals to include a third gender in the constitution: “It would treat all citizens equally and help to protect from discrimination in all areas including ease of doing business and also personal life.”