Latvian Saeima dodges civil union law adoption again

On Thursday, June 2, the Saeima planned to view the draft law on establishing a legal civil union in the final reading.

It was already planned to do so a week earlier, but it was not possible to ensure the quorum necessary for the vote as the Harmony party said it would not participate.

The Saeima could not view the draft law on June 2 either, again due to the failure to ensure the necessary quorum. Members from the Harmony, National Alliance, Independent and Greens and Farmers Union did not participate, according to the vote. All 40 that did participate, voted for, while one abstained.

The Saeima needs at least 50 members to be present to vote on a draft law, so the legislation remains in limbo. 

In the debate, opposition members tried to push for a postponement of the vote to October 29, essentially, to pass the baton to the next Saeima after elections on October 1.

Before the Saeima debate on June 2 morning Kaspars Zālītis, head of the movement Dzīvesbiedri (Life Partners), told Latvian Television that there are potentially many 'invisible families' in Latvia that are not seen legally and that the state does not protect. Just two days earlier, on May 31, the first appeal of such a family was satisfied in court, and the first same-sex family was legally recognized.

"We have helped around 27 couples to submit their request to courts to establish the fact of a family, so we currently see these 27 couples. But the number is growing every day, especially since the court decision [on May 31]," said Zālītis.

Zālītis said the legal recognition of such families is just as important as the registration of any relationship.

"It is legal protection. If you haven't registered your relationship, you have no legal rights. You are nothing in terms of the law."

Not only do same-sex couples encounter this issue. The civil union law is meant for any two people who wish to establish a legal relationship.

The draft law was created following the Constitutional Court's 2020 judgment on the right of a same-sex couple to a parental leave. Despite strong opposition, the law has been approved in the first two readings. If it is not adopted Thursday, it would mean non-compliance with the constitution. According to Zālītis, 'there are some politicians in the Saeima who blatantly disrespect the constitution.'

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