Swiss Voters Reject Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage

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Today, Switzerland voted in a referendum that touted equal tax breaks between married couples, who are taxed more, and unmarried couples. The “For marriage and family – against the marriage penalty” initiative from the Christian Democratic People’s Party would have also inserted a definition of a marriage as being the union between man and woman to the Swiss Federal Constitution which would have barred same-sex marriage in the country.

The initiative began its journey in 2011 and at first received support within the Legislature, but over time many MPs changed their stance and the Government issued a recommendation to the public to reject the initiative in June of 2015.

In the end, the public chose to reject the initiative by 50.8% after a large campaign by LGBT rights activists, several high profile people, and other parties in Parliament. The youth wing of the CDPP in the most populous canton of Zürich broke ranks with the Christian Party and urged a NO vote.

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An initiative from the Green Liberal Party to legalize gay marriage submitted in 2013 is currently pending in Parliament.

-Special thanks to Andrea for her help today.

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

Croatian Same-sex Reunification Case Sets European Court Precedent

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For the first time on Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on a case involving family reunification for gay couples.

A Bosnian national was prevented from obtaining a residency permit for reuniting with her Croatian partner, and after exhausting the Croatian court system, the case was brought before the European Court. The Court unanimously ruled that Croatia’s Aliens Act was discriminatory and that the country offered no real reason to deprive the plaintiff of a permit.

Strausbourg’s verdict reiterates that cohabiting same-sex couples in stable relationships fall under the scope of a family, adding that the definition includes those that are not physically together, such as the women being apart because of the immigration policy mentioned in the suit.

Finally, the plaintiff will receive 10,000 Euros from Croatia plus costs and expenses.

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

Citizens Initiative to Constitutionally Outlaw Gay Marriage and Adoption Handed to Mexico’s Senate

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The conservative group, The Mexican Family Board (ConFamilia), handed the Mexican Senate fifteen boxes of what it claims are over 200,000 signatures collected from more than fifty cities across the country to ensure that the definition of marriage in the country’s constitution remains between a man and a woman and to stop same-sex adoption.

The move comes as the Mexican Supreme Court expressed their support for same-sex adoption rights and set precedents over the years that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry as sexual orientation is mentioned in Mexico’s magna carta.

Currently, gay weddings are performed freely in Mexico City and the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, some municipalities in Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit and Quintana Roo. In 2015, the Mexican Supreme Court ordered all lower courts to grant injunctions for gay couples wishing to marry. This process allows any couple from a state without equal marriage laws to sue and receive a marriage license, but the journey can be long and very expensive. The same year they also ruled that same-sex couples are just as fit to be parents as heterosexual couples.

The pro-LGBT Court’s latest ruling was the first to directly nullify a piece of legislation blocking gay marriage in a state when Jalisco’s Congress was ordered in January to change their marriage laws. Fearing that state congresses may pass bills on their own and wary of a ruling like Jalisco’s under the right conditions, conservative groups have bolstered their efforts to annul existing gay marriages and stop future ones stating that they are fine with couples having a partnership law, but marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. The initiative argues that marriage is for procreation purposes and thus only between men and women.

The initiative will now be turned over to committees within the Senate.

For more information on Mexico’s journey to marriage equality, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Mexico

Italy’s Prime Minister Relents on Adoption Rights within the Civil Unions Bill

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Prime Minister Renzi has asked his coalition to remove all the provisions of the Civil Unions Bill mentioning adoption rights.

The stepchild adoption clause, which would have given same-sex couples the right to adopt their partner’s biological child, has been the most controversial part of the bill since it was submitted two years ago. Parliamentary rivals and even some members of Renzi’s own circle were not keen on the idea of stepchild adoption and disagreement inside the Senate led to a standstill.

Italy is the last major nation in Western Europe without any legal recognition for gay couples and Renzi defended his move to drop the adoption clause on a radio interview by stating, “Between ‘everything never’ and ‘nothing today,’ it’s better to do a little piece now” regarding the family law reforms. Since his announcement, LGBT rights groups have expressed their disappointment with some claiming they feel betrayed.

The Prime Minister hopes to have the new, watered-down version of the Civil Unions Bill passed in the Senate by Friday so it can advance to the Chamber of Deputies where a larger left-leaning majority resides. However, getting the bill out of the Senate may require a confidence vote, a risky move that would equal new Parliamentary elections if it is unsuccessful. Although polls show that Renzi’s party would come out victorious if an election was held now, holding new elections would cause the bill to lapse and require the Government to start all over again.

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

Australia: Victoria to Register Overseas Unions, Legalizes Full Same-sex Adoption

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Last Tuesday, Royal Assent was given to the Relationship Amendment Bill 2015 passed by Victoria’s Legislature. The bill will recognize same-sex marriages and other unions as domestic partnerships in the Australian state if one of the persons is a Victorian resident and the law is expected to go into effect on October 1st at the latest. Victoria joins New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania where foreign relationships are recognized as something other than a de facto union.

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Australia has a nationwide de facto union law with some of the rights of heterosexual marriages, and while several territories have expanded the scope of rights granted to same-sex couples over the years, gay marriage itself is not performed or recognized as a marriage in the country due to a statutory law passed by the Federal Government in 2004 that amended the Marriage Act 1961 to state that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

When the Australian Capital Territory attempted to change its marriage laws in 2013 to allow gay couples to marry, the Australian High Court unanimously struck it down with a ruling arguing that Australia’s matrimonial laws are a Federal issue and must be changed through the nation’s Parliament and may not be changed on a local level.

Attempts to approve a national same-sex marriage bill in recent years have mostly been hindered by the lack of a free vote on the issue. Currently, the Australian Government is mulling a plebiscite on whether to legalize same-sex marriage while the opposition demands a Parliamentary free vote before the next elections which must be held by January 2017.

Victoria has also become the latest place to expand joint adoption rights to same-sex couples after a bill was passed last December. Although the state government received applause for expanding adoption rights, the bill was also met with some criticism from LGBT rights groups as conservatives in the state’s legislature succeeded in inserting a last-minute clause allowing religious organizations to refuse same-sex couples if it violates their beliefs. The hard choice for the ruling party was then made to pass the bill as is rather than scrap it. The new adoption law is scheduled to come into effect by September 1st.

Victoria will then join the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia in allowing full adoption rights to gay couples.

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

Portuguese President Promulgates Gay Adoption Bill

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Portugal was once the only country with gay marriage but no adoption rights for couples. That changed today when news emerged that out-going President, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, signed the same-sex adoption bill ushered in by a new Left-leaning Parliamentary majority.

The Portuguese Assembly approved the adoption bill in December, but the President vetoed it in January. The Assembly’s Left Bloc easily overrode the veto last week with some help from the President’s party. Since no changes were made to the adoption proposal, Silva was constitutionally obligated to sign the bill within 8 days.

The Wikipedia map below shows the current state of European adoption laws.

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Parabéns, Portugal.

Colombia’s Court Debate on Gay Marriage Postponed Again

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Colombia’s Constitutional Court was scheduled to discuss the same-sex marriage lawsuits today, but according to BluRadio Colombia, the Court has once again delayed the topic until next week.

The 9 magistrates are being asked to decide if couples who have contracted solemn unions should have the unions recognized as a marriage and if previously registered marriages should be annulled.

The country’s Inspector General argues that marriage should not be extended to gay couples and that marriages that were conducted by civil court judges should be canceled.

Although the media is predicting a victory for gay couples, the Constitutional Court has delayed a final decision four times.

The new debate date is the 25th.