Lower house approves registered partnerships for same-sex couples

16/12/2005

The lower house of the Czech Republic has approved a bill allowing for registered partnerships for homosexual couples. The bill had been rejected on four previous occasions, the last time by just one vote. On Friday all present MPs from the Civic Democrats and Christian Democrats voted against the bill, which must now go before the Civic-Democrat dominated Senate.

News from Radio Prague website: http://www.radio.cz/en/news#1

The Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid23478.asp

The lower chamber of the Czech parliament voted in support of a draft law granting some legal rights to same-sex partners. Eighty-six of the 147 deputies present voted in favor of the draft, 54 were against, and seven abstained from the vote.

Most of the deputies for the Social Democrats and Communists voted in favor of the draft, while Christian Democrats and deputies of the center-right Civic Democratic Party opposed it. The draft still needs approval by the senate and the president to become valid. "This is a great encouragement, but we remain realistic ahead of the senate vote," said Jiri Hromada, a leading Czech gay activist.

The 81-seat senate is dominated by the conservative Civic Democratic Party, which opposed the legislation in the lower house. It was not immediately clear when the senate vote would take place. The vote seems to indicate a change of position by Czech lawmakers. The parliament turned down similar proposals five times in the past. It was rejected by a majority of just one vote in the last vote on the issue in February.

If enacted, the legislation would allow couples who register their partnership with authorities to have rights to inheritance and health care that are similar to those granted now to heterosexual married couples. The draft does not allow marriage or adoption of children by same-sex partners. "Our ideas [about same-sex partnerships] are much wider than the draft, but this is an acceptable compromise," Hromada said. (AP)

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