Same-sex Marriage Lawsuit Filed in El Salvador

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A lawyer in El Salvador has filed a lawsuit before El Salvador’s Supreme Court asking for the nullification of Article 11 of the Family Code which defines marriage as “a legal union between a man and a woman”.

Labeling the law as discriminatory and explaining the lack of gendered terms used in Article 34 of the Constitution’s summary of a marriage, the suit seeks to allow same-sex couples the right to wed.

Reacting to the lawsuit, several members of the Legislative Assembly dismissed the notion of allowing same-sex marriage, citing Article 11.

In recent years, several attempts by the Assembly’s conservative parties have been made to add a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, but the second-largest party in the Assembly continued to deny them the 2/3 majority of votes required to ratify the ban.

The latest attempt led by a 35-member strong right-wing party in 2015 reached the first threshold of at least 43/86 votes in favor, but the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front’s 31-seat abstention resulted in the ban’s current state of limbo as 56 votes in favor are required for the ratification of a constitutional amendment.

El Salvador is the latest Latin American country after Mexico (on a state by state basis), Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Venezuela to sue for marriage equality.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in El Salvador, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_El_Salvador

Antarctica: British Antarctic Territory Introduces Same-sex Marriage Bill

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Earlier this year, the British Antarctic Territory proposed a bill to bring their marriage legislation in line with UK marriage laws.

The Marriage Ordinance 2016 will allow the purchase of a license to conduct a marriage and licenses to allow marriages to take place.

The bill will be under consultation until September 30th.

Although the area has no natives and is inhabited mostly by scientists, the British Antarctic Territory receives scores of tourists every year.

Gibraltar’s Government Presents Same-sex Marriage Bill

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Gibraltar’s Government announced the introduction of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage today.

Originally planned to make its debut earlier this year, the Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016 was delayed due to both the UK’s European Union referendum and the high volume of feedback during the consultation process.

With almost 3,500 answers submitted, the legislation is said to have received the largest number of public responses ever.

Despite stating that a conscience vote will be used in his center-left coalition, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is optimistic that there is enough support within his Government to approve the law.

Picardo’s coalition controls 10 of the 17 seats of Parliament while the Opposition, whose leader also expressed his confidence that his party will vote in favor, controls the remaining seats and announced a conscience vote as well.

The marriage bill will allow couples in civil partnerships to convert their union to a marriage if they desire.

Currently, gender-neutral civil partnerships with full adoption rights exist in the territory since 2014.

The civil partnership bill, which was viewed as a milestone by locals, was approved 16-0 after the Supreme Court of Gibraltar ruled that same-sex couples must not be excluded from the adoption process.

The Mariage Act will be debated for the first time no earlier than six weeks after its publication as mandated by Gibraltar’s constitution.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Gibraltar, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Gibraltar

Slovenia Approves New Same-sex Partnership Law Following Public’s Repeal of Their Marriage Bill

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Following last year’s repeal of a same-sex marriage law in the country, Slovenian lawmakers approved a civil partnership bill to give couples the same rights as marriage barring joint adoption and in-vitro fertilization. Unlike previous occasions, the Constitutional Court blocked a referendum to repeal the partnership law and it is expected to become functional in February of 2017.

The bill is the third attempt to fulfill a 2009 Constitutional Court ruling ordering Parliament to improve Slovenia’s current civil partnership law, especially in the area of pensions.

In 2011, a change to the Family Code granting the same rights as marriage and allowing same-sex couples the right to adopt their partner’s biological child was passed, but eventually repealed through the first of two public votes against a proposal on same-sex unions.

In 2014, a new Government considered another civil partnership bill before deciding to extend full equality to all couples instead and approve a same-sex marriage bill with joint adoption rights.

Once again, signatures for a repeal were collected and the Constitutional Court overrode the National Assembly’s decision to block the referendum which resulted in another defeat for same-sex couples.

After the 2015 marriage referendum, a member of Parliament introduced a bill similar to the Government’s civil partnership proposal that was passed in April. Conservative groups attempted to start a new referendum process, but were stopped by the Speaker of the National Assembly after he considered that they were abusing the country’s referendum law.

While the Court deliberated on the referendum case, the partnership bill was sent to the President to be promulgated. It was signed in May and published shortly after.

On July 22nd, the Court decided to block the referendum for the first time.

The new civil partnership law will come into effect on February 24th, 2017.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Slovenia, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Slovenia

Georgia’s President Blocks Referendum That Sought to Constitutionally Ban Same-sex Marriage

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After recently being approved by the Central Election Commission and the country’s Prime Minister, Georgia’s President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, announced on Tuesday that a referendum adding a constitutional ban on marriage between people of the same-sex was not necessary and effectively blocked the effort.

For the referendum process to proceed, 200,000 signatures must be verified by the Central Electoral Commission and receive the blessing of both the President and Prime Minister within 30 days.

President Margvelashvili stressed that the Georgian Civil Code, which contains a heterosexual definition of marriage, serves as enough clarification on local marriage laws and labeled the constitutional debacle a “non-issue”.

Although the Civil Code specifies that marriages are between men and women, Georgia’s existing constitution is gender-neutral on the subject and the referendum question brought before voters would have asked the following:

Do you agree or disagree that marriage should be defined as a union of a man and a woman for the purpose of creating a family?

Conservative groups vow to hold protests and take the referendum matter to the Georgian Constitutional Court.

The issue of same-sex marriage has come under the spotlight in Georgia following a lawsuit to legalize same-sex marriage being filed before the Constitutional Court earlier this year.

In response, forces both inside and outside of Parliament mulled an initiative to introduce a constitutional barrier on same-sex marriage, with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili issuing a campaign promise for a ban coming directly through Parliament without holding a public vote. The Prime Minister’s hope is that coalition will be awarded a super majority in October’s general election.

Constitutional changes made through the Legislature require a threshold of 3/4 of Parliament, or 113 of the 150 members, in favor.

While not necessarily in agreement with extending marriage rights, several MPs voiced their doubts about the measure citing the same defense as the President regarding the Civil Code being sufficient and members of the opposition denounced the ban as a political ploy from the ruling party. Accusations of “Russian propaganda” meant to stir anti-Western and anti-EU sentiments were also expressed by some lawmakers. The chances of the threshold being reached were questioned as well due to a previous proposal to add a ban failing in 2014.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Georgia, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Georgia_(country)

 

Italy Celebrates First Civil Union

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Last May, Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, promulgated the Civil Union bill and it was published as law in the country’s Official Gazette the following day.

The first civil union was celebrated by two men in Lugo on Sunday despite the government not issuing the pending administrative orders yet.

Since the bill’s approval, opponents of the legislation have threatened a referendum to repeal it. While adoption rights remain controversial with many Italians and within the Italian Senate, as witnessed by the removal of a stepchild adoption clause during parliamentary debates, civil unions themselves are widely accepted by the public according to annual polls.

The Senate’s removal of the clause granting some adoption rights was replaced with one stating that the Italian Government would respect court orders on the subject of parental rights.

This will function as a first step, as throughout the years, many verdicts regarding same-sex adoption have been successful in different courts around the country.

verdict delivered last week from Italy’s Court of Cassation allowed a woman in a same-sex relationship to adopt her partner’s child. The court’s decision did not legalize stepchild adoption, but will instead allow lower court judges to borrow from the court’s ruling on a case by case basis.

This halfway step from the judiciary was cheered by activists, but also served as a reminder that a law to automatically grant the right to stepchild adoption must still be passed through the Legislature in the future.

A separate bill to allow stepchild adoption was proposed in Parliament earlier this year, but may prove difficult to pass as seen by this spring’s events.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Italy, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Italy

Norway Simplifies Their Legal Gender Change Laws

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Norway recently modified their laws to allow a person to change their legal gender without the need of surgical, hormonal, and psychiatric intervention.

In the past, Norwegians seeking the change had to undergo hormone treatments, be sterilized, and pass a series of sessions with a psychiatrist before they could receive documentation with their new gender listed. The length of the entire process could last several years before a person’s new gender was officially recognized.

The Norwegian Health Ministry’s recent proposal was hailed as a breakthrough as it only requires self-declaration and a document that is filled in by the applicant then sent to the nearest Tax Office which registers civil statuses.

Parliament approved the bill on June 7th on a vote of 79-13. It was promulgated on June 17th and will take effect on July 1st.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Norway, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Norway