Constitutional Court of Slovenia Upholds Equal Rights for Same Sex Partners
On 2 July 2009, the Constitutional Court of Slovenia held that Article 22 of the Registration of Same Sex Partnerships Act (RSSPA) violated the right to non-discrimination under Article 14 of the Constitution on the ground of sexual orientation.
Source: Equal Right Trust: www.equalrightstrust.org
The decision was handed down in the case of Blažic and Kern v. Slovenia U-I-425/06-10. The applicants challenged Article 22, which sets out the inheritance regulations for same sex partnerships, on the basis that it regulated inheritance for same sex partners differently, and less favourably, than the Inheritance Act regulated inheritance for opposite sex partners.
The judgment which was adopted unanimously by all nine Constitutional Court judges is the first time that sexual orientation has been confirmed as a protected ground on which discrimination is prohibited under the “any other personal circumstance” clause of Article 14(1) of the Constitution.
In making its decision the Court noted the strong similarity between marriage and same sex partnerships:
“A registered partnership is a relationship which is in content similar to marriage or civil partnership. A stable connection between two persons, who are close to each other, who help and support each other is the key element of both. The ethical and emotional essence of a registered partnership, as stated in Article 8 of RSSPA, according to which the partners have to respect, trust and help each other, is similar to the union between a man and a woman. The legal situation of such a partnership is also similar to marriage. RSSPA also ensures mutual rights and obligations to partners, protects a weaker partner, regulates their legal position towards third parties, the state and the social environment.”
The decision represents an important victory in combating discriminatory statutory provisions and ensuring the equal rights for same sex couples in Slovenia. Reflecting on the significance of the case, Neža Kogovšek, the Head of the Human Rights Program of the Ljubljana-based Peace Institute and one of the three lawyers who wrote the complaint, stated:
“This is a landmark decision that will assist the LGBT community in Slovenia to pursue their equal rights not only in the area of inheritance, but also with respect to other social and economic rights deriving from partnerships. The decision was issued at a moment when the public debate on the necessity for the complete equality of same sex partners with opposite sex partners is particularly burning in Slovenia.”