Rally in support of civil union law fails to sway Saeima

Take note – story published 1 year ago

On Thursday, December 15 morning, a picket is held at the Saeima, expressing support for all Latvian families and for the adoption of the Civil Union Law.

On Thursday, the parliament plans to see the issue of a takeover of the Civil Union Law and its further move in the 14th Saeima.

The head of the “Dzīvesbiedri” (Life Partners) movement, Kaspars Zālītis, said in an interview on Latvian Television that the Civil Union Law would regulate basic issues related to inheritance, registration, and divorce. “That's about all. This is the first step,” Zālītis said.

In his opinion, the draft law includes the minimum level of regulation required. “I think it's quite well-designed, but we have a long way ahead – changes to at least 17 different laws so we can introduce it,” Zālītis said.

On the other hand, if the Saeima does not take over the Civil Union Law from the previous parliamentary term, then “let us start again”, Zālītis said, adding that discussions on this have been ongoing for 25 years.

The movement has also addressed President Egils Levits. “We have asked Mr. Levits to address this issue several times, but he has only recently started to withdraw. […] At the beginning of his presidency, he was quite open to this law. Now, I see, he has become more quiet and even quieter when we talk about the execution of the Constitutional Court judgment. As the author of the Preamble of the Constitution, I think he should be the first to defend the Constitution, but in this case, he stands quite quiet,” commented Zālītis.

Meanwhile, 28 same-sex families have been recognized by the court so far, and Zālītis said he knew that another 22 couples were waiting for court decisions.

The Saeima Legal Affairs Committee has decided not to continue work on the Civil Union Law started by the previous Saeima.

In the draft law, the civil union is defined as a notarized agreement between two natural adult persons, which establishes or terminates the material and immaterial rights and duties of the persons. The draft law ensures that couples in civil unions can become “visible” to the State if they develop mutual relations in accordance with the procedures specified in the draft law, thereby obtaining protection for personal and property rights.

The draft law was created following the Constitutional Court's 2020 judgment on the right of a same-sex couple to a parental leave. 

However, despite a submission from  members of the "Progressives" party, the 14th Saeima again decided against revisiting the legislation that had been left unfinished by its predecessor.

During a lengthy debate on the draft law, many MPs defended the position that a family can only be the result of a union between a woman and a man. Several supported the idea that the matter could be put to a referendum. Nevertheless, supporters of change failed to persuade a generally conservative chamber, with several deputies voicing religious objections to the notion of same-sex marriage.

In the end the attempt to revisit the civil union law was defeated by 33 votes to 55 and gave an early example of a split in government ranks. The New Unity party backed the Progressives, while the other two coalition parties, the National Alliance and United List, teamed up with opponents of the proposal. 

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