The Czech Republic could become the first post-communist country to legalise same sex marriage. An amendment to the country’s Civil Code is set to have its first reading in Parliament this week. While polls show that the majority of the country supports the move, there is also an opposing bill on the table.
Registered partnerships between same sex couples have taken place 137 times in the first six months of 2017, 81 of those were between gay men and 56 between women. That’s a slight reduction on the first half of 2016. In the 11 years since registered partnerships were recognised there have been 2647 gay ‘marriages.’ Around a third of them are in Prague. Since a Constitutional Court ruling in middle of last year, 325 same sex couples have expressed interest in adopting children. The figures were compiled by the equal rights group, Proud.
Over 2,600 same-sex couples have entered into registered partnerships in the Czech Republic since the law was enacted eleven years ago, Jan Fiala, from the Equality, Recognition and Diversity Platform told journalists on Monday. The law on registered partnerships came into effect on July 1, 2006. Registered partnerships have a much lower divorce rate than regular marriages. Since the law came into effect only 14.5 percent of registered partnerships have been divorced, while in the case of regular marriages, the rate is about 50 percent. The law on registered partnerships provides for the right to information on the health condition of the registered partners and the right to inherit property just as in regular marriage.
An alliance of Czech non-profits has just launched a campaign calling for same-sex couples to have the same right to marry as heterosexuals. Under the banner Coalition for Marriage, they argue that marriage equality is only fair and say they aim to spark a nationwide conversation on the issue. I spoke to the group’s Aleš Rumpel and began by asking what the differences were between registered partnerships for homosexuals, introduced in 2006, and marriage.
Support for registered partnerships for homosexual and lesbian couples has increased in the Czech Republic over the past two years according to a survey by the Median agency for Czech Radio. It found 68 percent of respondents in favour of such partnerships, which have been legally possible since 2006. That is an advance from the 55 percent support recorded in 2012. But society appears evenly split on whether such couples should be able to adopt children with 48 percent in favour and the same total against according to the latest survey.
In a significant ruling on Tuesday, the Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court overturned a law which prevented individual gays and lesbians living in registered partnership from adopting children. The judge argued that such a ban was discriminatory, since gays and lesbians not living in such an official partnership are allowed to do so. However, the ruling does not allow same-sex partners to adopt children as a couple.
Homosexuals in registered partnerships in the Czech Republic have the right to adopt children, according to a ruling issued on Tuesday by the Constitutional Court. The court’s justices overturned a provision in the law on registered partnerships barring such adoptions, which they said was discriminatory. The Civic Code only allows married couples to conduct joint adoptions, so only one member of a pair in a registered partnership will be the adoptive parent under the new ruling unless the legislation is changed. There are around 1,800 registered partnerships in the Czech Republic.
The Constitutional Court will review a law banning gays and lesbians living in a registered partnership from adopting their partner’s child. A city court in Prague in March filed a proposal for abolishing the provision, which is included in the law on registered partnerships. According to the current legislation, gays and lesbians can adopt children only if they don’t live in a registered partnership. The law has been repeatedly criticised by a number of human rights organisations and initiatives. The Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Jiří Dienstbier has also been pushing for the abolition of the provision, calling it absurd and unconstitutional.
Last year 233 couples entered into registered partnerships in the Czech Republic, 32 more than in 2013. The majority of the pairs – 148 – were men. Close to 4,000 gays and lesbians have entered such unions since the institution was introduced by Czech legislators eight and a half years ago. The information has been provided by gay rights activist Milda Šlehofer as no official count is kept, the Czech News Agency reported.
Jiří Dienstbier, the Social Democratic candidate for the 2013 presidential elections, has expressed his support for new laws to permit gay couples to both enter into registered partnerships and adopt children in the Czech Republic. Discussing his position, Dienstbier stated that he believed that no institute could supplant an upbringing provided to a child by a stable couple. Recent opinion polls have Dientsbier achieving around 6% support while independent candidate Jan Fischer leads the pack with 34.5%, according to the Meridian agency.