Saeima debates definition of 'family' in the Constitution

On Thursday, January 14, the Saeima transferred to the Legal Affairs Commission a proposal from the National Alliance political grouping to amend Section 110 of the Constitution, to stipulate that the concept of a 'family' is based on a union between a man and a woman.

47 deputies voted for this proposal, 25 against, 21 did not vote and 7 deputies were absent. The proposal was transferred to Saeima Legal Affairs Commission.

The proposal is a response to a ruling last year by the Constitutional Court that said parents in a family can also be same-sex when it comes to Labor Law.

National Alliance leader Raivis Dzintars told Latvian Radio Thursday morning that the Constitutional Court had exceeded its powers, creating a "definition of a family that is not acceptable to the general public in Latvia".

The introduction of amendments to the Constitution requires the support of two-thirds of Saeima members. Both activists and a number of theology professionals and clerics have already spoken against the amendments. Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said that this is not the time for discussions on amendments to the Constitution.

On the other side, various NGOs including family groups, motorcycle enthusiasts, religious groups, a car drifting team, the Latvian Cultural Fund in Ireland, an association of army veterans and a bobsledding group expressed support for the proposed amendments.

Lawyer Lauris Liepa told Latvian Radio that awareness of the concept of “family” has broadened, but it is legally difficult to define it precisely. However, the proposed amendments to the Constitution, in the opinion of the lawyer, contradict this century's vision of respect for part of society.

“Of course it is extremely sad because Members are calling for one part of society, which in no way harms others or violates others' rights, not only be ignored as it has been so far, but actually to point out that these people are living together illegally,” Liepa said.

He also pointed out that the public has the right to judge the judgments of various court bodies, but it is wrong to judge the power of the Constitutional Court judgment:

“There are a few cases that a legal state must accept, including the fact that the Constitutional Court has the highest power to determine the conformity of a rule or  non-compliance with the Constitution.

“If, dissatisfied with the judgment, some people can say that their opinion is not in line with the Constitutional Court judgment, that the court should therefore be disbanded, as it was stated, or discontinued, it means that people have not understood democratic mechanisms in a legal state. "

Saeima faction Development/For! has called on the Prime Minister to hold a faction meeting to discuss how to protect the Latvian Constitution from discriminatory amendments to it, according to the faction's statement to the media.

The faction explained that it should seriously discuss the situation in the coalition with the Prime Minister, given that directing amendments to the Constitution is in contradiction with the Coalition Cooperation Agreement, which provides for amendments to the Constitution only on the basis of the principle of consensus between the partners.

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