Signature collection for referendum against partnership law still sluggish

Since December 7, just over 10,000 voters have signed to trigger a referendum to repeal amendments introducing the partnership institute in Latvia, according to LETA's information as of December 19.

Representative of the Central Election Commission (CVK) Andrejs Vaivars told LETA that 10,766, or 0.7% of voters, have signed up.

To trigger a referendum, one-tenth, or about 155,000, voter signatures would have to be collected by January 5.

A list of local governments and representations of Latvia abroad with locations for collecting signatures and their working times is available here.

As previously reported by LSM, on November 9 the Saeima approved a new partnership law by means of amendments to the Notary Law that would include provision for registered same-sex partnerships (and dual-sex partnerships) with legal status and protection for the first time. Amendments to the laws are expected to come into force on July 1, 2024.

The applicable legislation was passed thanks to the government's narrow majority in parliament but was preceded by stormy debates both within the chamber and in wider society. Reaction to the partnership law has varied from joy among civil rights groups to dismay among 'family values' traditionalists.

If the referendum takes place, the law may be repealed if at least half of the number of voters who participated in the last Saeima elections participate in the referendum, and the majority of them vote to repeal the law. 916,368 voters participated in the Saeima elections, a turnout of around 60%, so a turnout of around 30% (458,184 voters) would be required for the result of any referendum to be binding.

If such a referendum were held, the partnership institute would be supported by 32% of Latvia's residents and 30% would oppose it, according to a survey of residents conducted by the research center Norstat in cooperation with

However, the fact that relatively few people have so far gone to register any demand for a referendum suggests that the population at large is much less worked up about the notion of civil partnerships than the organizers of the signature collection drive. 

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