New Push For Same-Sex Marriage In Czech Republic, But Obstacles Remain

Last week, a new bill was introduced to the Chamber of Deputies, co-signed by Deputies from five different parties, which would legalise same-sex marriage in the Czech Republic. Even if it passes, however, President Miloš Zeman said he will veto any bill widening the definition of marriage. Photo credits: Freepik

Czech Republic, June 14 (BD) – A new draft bill to amend the Civil Code to allow people of the same sex to marry in the Czech Republic was introduced to the Chamber of Deputies last week.

The draft was signed by representatives of five parliamentary groups: Mayors and Independents (STAN), TOP 09, the Piráti Party, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and ANO. The governing parliamentary groups had previously expressed their openness to discussion of the move, and had specified that the passing of the bill would not lead to divisions in the governing coalition. Deputies of most parties are likely to be allowed a free vote of conscience on the bill, which leaves its likelihood of passing unclear. When the last bill to legalise same-sex marriage was introduced in 2018, most parliamentary parties were divided on the issue.

“On behalf of the Piráti Party, we believe that people should be equal not only in their responsibilities but also in their rights,” said Olga Richterová (Pirate), who represented party leader Ivan Bartos at a meeting of the government coalition leaders. “We cannot divide citizens into categories based on who they love and who they want to spend their lives with. Today, hundreds of thousands of LGBT+ people do not have the possibility to marry, which means that they and their children are losing legal security.” 

While the Piráti Party are largely supportive of the bill, their coalition partners in the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) are mostly opposed. “We discussed this before the elections and said that this is one of the specific issues where the issue of conscientious objection of each deputy is really crucial,” said KDU-CSL leader Marian Jurečka, speaking to “So if such a proposal is presented and signed by some representatives of the governing coalition groups, we will not understand it as a violation of the coalition agreement.” 

Markéta Pekarová Adamová, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and leader of TOP 09, had also publicly declared her support for the bill and signed the motion. As expected, the motion was not supported by KDU-CSL or the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD), though it remains to be seen whether these parties will grant their MPs a free vote on the issue. However, the bill would have to finally be signed by President Zeman, who has said he would veto any such bill.

“I would like to announce that if I really receive such a law on my desk, I will veto it,” Zeman told reporters after last week’s meeting with Hungarian President Katalina Novak in Prague. He said that same-sex couples are entitled to all the benefits of a legal partnership, “but a family is the union of a man and a woman. Full stop.” He added that he would support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as some KDU-CSL representatives are currently pushing for.

The proposed equal marriage for same-sex couples would include the granting of the same rights as opposite-sex couples, including the right to a widow’s pension, rights and duties concerning the children they raise, and access to family assistance. Currently, same-sex couples can only enter into registered partnerships in the Czech Republic, but this lacks many of the same rights as married couples. Registered partners are not entitled to a survivor’s pension, have no joint property rights, and cannot adopt a child together.

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