News from Europe

The Czech Republic has yielded. Government backs bill on the legalisation of same-sex marriages

In the Czech Republic on Tuesday, the government backed a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry. An opposing bill calling for the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman to be enshrined into the constitution is unlikely to succeed. The final decision will rest with the lower house of parliament where a majority are in favour of the total recognition of same-sex marriage.

The past few weeks have seen a notable rise in the number of debates regarding gay marriage in the country where, since 2006, the law already allows gay and lesbian couples to enter into ‘registered partnerships.’ There are now two bills before Parliament.  One bill, proposed by forty-six lawmakers,  argues that gay couples deserve the option of being granted ‘full marital status’ while an opposing bill, proposed by thirty-seven lawmakers, wants the definition of marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman’ to be enshrined into the constitution. 

The Czech government led by Andrej Babis discussed the issue on Tuesday; Babis decided to support the proposal that will lead the way to gay-lesbian marriage. The marriage proposal was initially a joint submission presented by several parties: ANO, TOP 09, STAN, Pirate Party, Communists and Social Democrats.

If the parliament approves the amendment to the Family Law, the possibility of registering a same sex partnership will come to an end. Currently, registered partners have the right to get information about each other’s health, share ownership and inheritance but they cannot adopt a child. Over the last decade, the rights of those in ‘registered partnerships’ have been expanded but as yet their rights do not equate to those who are married. This situation will change with the adoption of the new amendment.

The majority of the Czech population agree with the proposal adopted by the government; a survey conducted in May shows that half of the population supports gay marriage, while forty-five per cent approves of the existing ‘registered partnership’ option.

The bill allowing same-sex marriages would only need a simple majority in the two-hundred-seat house; the constitutional change would require one hundred and twenty votes.

Currently, most west European countries permit same-sex marriage, but the only former communist region where same-sex marriage is legal is the east of now-unified Germany. Unlike neighbouring Poland and Slovakia, the Czech Republic is one of Europe’s most secular societies, and religious groups have a relatively weak voice.

Sources: Reuters, S4C HUN

Leave a reply