Serbia Mulls Offering Rights to Gay Couples
Reposted fromm Balkan Insight: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/serbia-to-regulate-status-of-same-sex-partners
Serbia is considering a new law regulating the status of same-sex partnerships, which its authors insist is not a step towards towards legalising gay marriage.
A draft law on same-sex partnerships in Serbia will be presented at a public hearing scheduled for June 4.
The draft law introduces the right of inheritance for same-sex partners who live in a long-term union.
In case of the death of one of them, the other would inherit the pension of the late partner, the draft law says.
It also envisions that same-sex partners will be able to visit each other in hospital as members of the immediate family.
The authors of the text maintain that the law is not a step towards gay marriagem an issue that remains controversial in many European countries.
"These are only possible legal solutions aimed at regulating the status of people of the same sex who live together," Suzana Paunovic, director of the Serbian Office for Human Rights, said.
Paunovic is optimistic that the law will be adopted because, as she said, it is line with the Serbian constitution, article 62 of which says marriage can be only between a man and a woman.
In neighbouring Croatia, more than 500,000 signatures were collected on Monday demanding a referendum to constitutionally define marriage as a "life-long union of a woman and man" - which would rule out the possibility of legalising same-sex marriages.
So far, 13 countries in the world allow same-sex couples to marry. These are Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Sweden.
Britain's Conservative-led government has said it intends to legalise gay marriage shortly.
According to surveys, Serbian society remains deeply homophobic, as a result of which gay people tend to live in isolation and with a high degree of secrecy.
In 2009, 2011 and 2012, Serbian authorities banned gay parades after police declared they could not safeguard marchers against threats of violence coming from right-wing groups.
The Gay Pride march went ahead in 2010, but several thousand youngsters, including football fans and members of rightist organisations, threw stones and missiles at police, injuring police officers and setting buildings and vehicles on fire.
This year, organisers have announced that Belgrade Gay Pride will be marked from September 20 to 29, while the walk through the capital is set for September 28.