Czech lawmakers approve more rights for same-sex couples, just not marriage

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 12:12 PM

PRAGUE (Reuters) – The Czech lower house on Wednesday agreed to give more rights to same-sex couples in a civil partnership, but disappointed campaigners by stopping short of calling their union a marriage or allowing joint adoption.

The Czech Republic allows same-sex couples to register their unions, but this status does not let them adopt children jointly, own property together or receive widows’ and widowers’ pensions.

More than half of European Union states allow same-sex marriages, but there is widespread resistance in eastern countries that were under communist rule for decades, where many say it must remain the preserve of heterosexual couples.

After months of sharp debate, a scaled-backed version of the bill made it through Wednesday’s vote.

“The existing registered partnership institution is not satisfactory,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Josef Bernard, said in the debate. “It should be expanded, on that there is agreement in the lower house.”

An opinion poll from the CVVM agency last year indicated that 58% of Czechs believed same-sex couples should have the right to marry, and even more said they should be allowed to adopt.

Under the revised bill, joint adoption will be possible only if one of the partners is a biological parent.

“It’s a sad day for thousands of families with kids who have two mothers or two fathers and for hundreds of thousands of LGBT people,” the Jsme Fer (We are Fair) group, which campaigns for same-sex marriage, said on the X platform.

“It’s a sad day for justice and equality in our country.”

President Petr Pavel had said on X that he saw “no reason to limit legal rights based on sexual orientation”.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, around three dozen countries in the world have made same-sex marriage legal since the Netherlands did so in 2001.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Kevin Liffey)