Same-sex couples anticipate legal recognition in Latvia

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Twenty-six applications by same-sex couples have been filed in several administrative courts, requesting the court to recognize the legal relationship between these couples as per Article 110 of the Constitution, the movement Dzīvesbiedri ('Life partners') said on February 14.

“The story of each couple is very personal and individual, some have registered their relationship in another European Union country, there are couples with children, couples who have lived together for more than ten years,” the organization said.

The couples turned to the court after a December 2021 Supreme Court decision on a provisional rule under which same-sex couples will be able to register their relationships. In order to find justice and security for families who are not “legally visible” to the country, Dzīvesbiedri, together with the LGBT+ and ally organization Mozaīka, called on same-sex couples to apply for legal support. More than 30 families initially responded to the call.

"This is a significant and predictable step forward, as the regulation of long-term couples living in non-married unions has not been addressed for a long time. In Latvia, the legal recognition of same-sex couples has been discussed for 25 years, eight times the law has been on the political agenda, but in recent years courts have been involved in dealing with this issue. [..] We have a long process ahead, but we hope that this will force the legislator to take another step forward in addressing this issue through legislation,” said Kaspars Zālītis, head of the Dzīvesbiedri movement.

Lauris Liepa, the managing partner of law company Cobalt, said that the possibility created by the Supreme Court Senate shows that Latvia is a legal state.

“The opportunity to turn to court proves that families of same-sex couples are no longer 'outside the law' and deserve legal protection. That, of course, is also a strong signal for politicians. The legislator has to prove that Latvia's greatest wealth is in the diversity of families,” Liepa said.

The legal recognition of family will not automatically guarantee that families of same-sex couples will have access to the right to the social and economic protection of families specified in other regulatory enactments. However, as indicated in the Dzīvesbiedri movement, it is an essential tool for same-sex couples to defend their family rights in other administrative or civil proceedings until the legislator adopts an effective legal framework which will also ensure the legal, social and economic protection of same-sex families.

The movement also looks forward to the civil union bill drafted by the Justice Ministry.

"The solutions embedded in the civil union law prove that our Republic is truly democratic. Real democracy is based not only on the rule of majority or power-based negotiations but also on dialogue, understanding of the other, and a genuine desire for compromise. The model of civil union will not be valid for everyone and some will find it unwelcome, but it achieves the base objective: it will significantly improve the situation and help to address a number of problems that vulnerable couples are currently facing,” said sworn advocate Jūlija Jerņeva.


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