Saeima rejects initiative on legal protection of all families

The Saeima majority on Thursday rejected the society's initiative on the legal protection of all families, Latvian Radio reported. The initiative encouraged legally recognizing couples living outside the marriage union and ensuring their social protection.

50 voted in favor of rejecting the initiative, 32 voted against, one abstained.

More than 23 thousand Latvian citizens had signed the initiative on the legal protection of all families, so it was included on the agenda of Parliament on Thursday. As the Saeima Legal Affairs Committee decided this week not to continue work on the Civil Union Law, this was another attempt to call on the legislature to comply with the Constitutional Court judgment, which requires the state to protect all families – also same-sex.

The Progressives deputy, Kaspars Briškens, said: “Obviously, we are in favor of equality between all families. Here we are really talking about all families. Latvia is one of the six European Union countries where there is no regulation of civil partnerships. In our vision, too, this is not an ideological issue. This is a matter of the rule of law, ensuring equal rights for all our people, and for all our families. These days I have met with several ambassadors of the countries of the European Union who reside in Latvia. They are also surprised that Latvia, for example, in the Legal Affairs Committee this week rejected the further passage of this bill.”

The plenary session of Parliament held a wide-ranging debate on the initiative as well as on what a family is. The Constitution states that marriage is between a man and a woman, but it is not defined that the family is composed of representatives of only two opposite sexes who entered the marriage. The Constitutional Court also pointed to this in its decision when it ordered the parliament to protect all families.

Progressives MP Antoņina Ņenaševa said in the debate that the emphasis is on protecting families. “I and my family don't feel threatened if any other family rights are protected,” said Ņenaševa. She also said that, at the moment, families of same-sex couples are seeking their recognition in court, thus burdening them.

Ramona Petraviča (Latvia First), on the other hand, considered that the concept of family is distorted in this way, going into whataboutism on polygamy, swingers, people forming families with dogs and cats, since "species is not included in the definition, either". In her opinion, it is a moral hazard, a natural family at risk of extinction, and a risk of polarizing society.

Constitutional Rights expert Lauris Liepa explained that there were no penalties if the legislature failed to comply with the Constitutional Court judgment. However, the parliament must not ignore the judgments of the Constitutional Court as doing so may also have international consequences.

“The fact that there are different political positions or voter views is not justified in this case in any way. There are no sanctions to judge the failure to fulfill tasks imposed by a ruling of the Constitutional Court. This leads us to the next solution – Latvia has an international commitment, the European Convention on Human Rights, for which the Latvian State also has to be responsible,” said Liepa.

Liepa said there could also be specific claims before the European Court of Human Rights against the State of Latvia, adding that there is an obvious discrepancy that Latvia will have to address.

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