Credit: Freepik

Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes First Reading In Chamber of Deputies

A bill that would legalise same-sex marriage in the Czech Republic passed its first reading in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday, and will now be scrutinised by parliamentary committees. A separate motion to define marriage as between a man and woman also advanced. During the debate, SPD leader Tomio Okamura said he would rather jump out of a window than be adopted by a same-sex couple. Photo Credit: Freepik / Illustrative Photo.

Czech Rep., Apr 30 (BD) – Following a four-hour debate, a bill that would legalise same-sex marriage in the Czech Republic passed its first reading in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday. A separate motion to amend the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman also passed its first reading, with both bills surviving motions of rejection to proceed to scrutiny by committee. 

Since 2006, the Czech Republic has allowed registered partnerships for same-sex couples, which grant several rights of marriage, including inheritance and hospital visitation rights, but not joint adoption, spouse’s pension, or joint property rights. Before the October 2017 election, LGBT activists launched Jsme Fer (“We Are Fair”), a campaign to legalise same-sex marriage within four years. The campaign polled all candidates for the Chamber of Deputies for their position on the topic, with 82 of the 200 MPs elected supportive of same-sex marriage.

A same-sex marriage bill was introduced to the Chamber of Deputies in June 2018, but its progress has since stalled. Yesterday, the Chamber discussed an amendment to the Civil Code that would permit marriage for LGBT couples, alongside a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as union of a man and a woman. The debate saw several parties divided on the issue. 

Government Commissioner for Human Rights Helena Válková (ANO), noted that the current system of registered partnerships discriminates against LGBT couples. “We owe it to same-sex couples to settle their situation,” she said. Her colleague Marcela Meklová agreed: “Marriage for everyone is the solution. Everyone should have this right. Whoever we are, we are all first and foremost people.”

TOP 09 leader Markéta Pekarová Adamová split from her party’s election allies ODS and KDU-CSL by endorsing same-sex marriage: “”Even though I am a Catholic, I will support the proposal of marriage for everyone. Although I am also in a marriage that many call traditional, I will support this bill so that same-sex couples can enter into marriage.” Jiří Dolejš of the Communist Party said that his party would also support the proposal, while noting that there was little time left before the end of the parliamentary term.

Various MPs, however, claimed that marriage for same-sex couples presented a threat to the tradition of marriage. Marek Výborný (KDU-ČSL) said that “what forms the basis of a stable family, ie marriage – dad, mother and children, should not be dismantled in any way,” while Marek Benda (ODS) dismissed same-sex marriage as “Western stupidity”, and part of a “culture war”. SPD leader Tomio Okamura, who spent part of his childhood in an orphanage, said he would rather have jumped out of a window than been adopted by a same-sex couple. 

A motion rejecting the same-sex marriage amendment, put forward by MPs from ODS, SPD, and Trikolor, received 41 votes from the 93 MPs present, and the amendment will therefore proceed to be examined by the Constitutional/Legal and Social committees. The Pirate Party proposed a motion rejecting the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but this received only 30 votes from 95 MPs present, and has therefore been sent to the Constitutional/Legal Committee and the Constitutional Commission. The committees will have 80 days to review the proposed legislation, rather than the standard 60 days, raising doubts as to whether either bill has a chance of becoming law before the elections in October. 

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