Colombian Senator Wants Referendum Against Same-sex Adoption

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In November of 2015, Colombia’s Constitutional Court issued a ruling granting full adoption rights to same-sex couples. A member of Congress recently turned in over 2 million signatures to force a referendum on the issue.

Arguing that only couples made up of a man and a woman should be allowed to adopt, the congresswoman began a campaign titled “Sign for Mom and Dad” and turned in the signatures on Tuesday to the National Civil Registry.

For the referendum to happen, the signatures must be verified by the Registry then both Congress and the Constitutional Court must approve the initiative.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives need to approve the proposal in two separate sessions each while 5 of the 9 Constitutional Court magistrates need to vote on allowing the referendum.

The current government has publicly announced its support for several judicial rulings benefiting the LGBT community in the past and simply lets the pro-LGBT Court decisions become law.

The Constitutional Court on the other hand, has granted couples in the country many benefits over the years with written opinions citing constitutional rights and negating that the majority has a right to rule on the minority.

As such, it is unlikely that the initiative will garner enough support from either of the two branches in Colombia for the referendum to come into fruition.

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

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Guerrero, Mexico: Rights Group Files Lawsuits to Have Existing Same-sex Marriages Recognized

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Following some areas’ refusal to recognize same-sex nuptials performed after an order from the former Governor of Guerrero, a state LGBT rights group is now offering legal representation to couples who want their marriages recognized to the fullest.

In June of 2015, the now ex-Governor of Guerrero instructed Civil Registries to allow same-sex couples to marry in the state. He was witness to a mass wedding in Acapulco the following July, but in January of 2016, the head of Acapulco’s Civil Registry dismissed the legality of the weddings observed since then due to the Guerrero Civil Code retaining the heterosexual definition of marriage, and stated that they would not be recognized by the Registry.

During a press conference for the planned mass wedding on Valentine’s Day, the head of the State Civil Registry Department announced that all marriages performed in Guerrero since the executive order are legally valid, although the recognition and act of performing them falls on each municipality within the state.

In Mexico, same-sex marriages are recognized on both a state and a federal level and couples can always turn to the court system to obtain an injunction in any place in the country that does not perform same-sex weddings, but the process can be both timely and expensive. Only Mexico City and the states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, some registries in Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit and Quintana Roo perform marriages freely.

Earlier this month, the Guerrero Association of Gays and Lesbians announced their intention of taking Civil Registries to court. The first case mentioned at the press conference was that of a lesbian couple who married in Acapulco a month before the Civil Registry’s statement against the recognition of marriages brought about by the Governor’s order. A district judge ruled for the couple and the attorney representing the women says that four more suits are in the works.

Although seen as a good first step, having states issue marriage licenses through executive orders can run the risk of causing distress to couples if state leaders or registry department heads change and are replaced with people not open to the idea.

A bill to codify and change the matrimonial language on the state’s books to gender-neutral is currently stalled in Congress. The passage of the bill would erase any hurdle for obtaining a marriage license and guarantee that the couples have all the benefits of heterosexual spouses.

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

Isle of Man’s Same-sex Marriage Bill Receives First Reading in Upper House

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On Tuesday, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2016 made its way through the first round of the Isle’s Legislative Council, or Upper House. The bill was approved in the House of Keys (Lower House) on March 9th and the vote to approve the bill in its first of three required readings in the smaller Legislative Council was 6-3.

Isle of Man has an existing civil partnership bill with full adoption rights and many MPs agreed that it’s time to close the gap between the recognition of different relationships on the island.

The proposal seeks to extend marriage equality to the island by allowing same-sex nuptials, recognizing foreign marriages as marriages instead of partnerships, and by giving gay couples in partnerships the option of converting their union into a marriage. It will also allow heterosexual couples to enter civil partnerships as currently they are only available to homosexual pairs.

The Manx leader, Chief Minister Alan Bell, hopes to have the bill passed and promulgated in time for summer weddings.

The chamber will be on Easter break and shall resume its work on April 26th.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Isle of Man, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_the_Isle_of_Man

 

Second Marriage Equality Case Heard in Austria Today

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In December of last year, a case against the current same-sex marriage ban in Austria was dismissed by a Viennese Administrative Court. The same legal team took another case to the Regional Administrative Court of Upper Austria in Linz today.

Using the argument that Austria is the only nation in the world that affords same-sex couples all the adoption and in-vitro rights of marriage, but not marriage itself, the attorney made his case.

He stressed that the children of the couples suffer most because not all countries recognize non-marital partnerships, such as Austria’s, or at least do not give unmarried couples from abroad the same rights as those who already married.

The attorney expressed concern that the parental rights of both parents over children in same-sex households may not always be properly recognized inside and outside of Austria and cause problems for the families.

In Austria, only couples in civil partnerships can be automatically registered as co-parents. The couple mentioned in the lawsuit is neither married nor in a partnership and fears for the recognition of their child if they are not allowed to wed in the future.

The suit also highlights the 32 differences between the country’s civil partnership law and marriage with one of the most prominent being the fact that couples in partnerships are not allowed to choose their own surname on documents after they enter a partnership. This restriction can discourage several couples from applying for a civil partnership as it may come at the expense of their privacy.

The surname clause in the country’s civil partnership legislation is sometimes nicknamed the “Pink Triangle”, an allusion to WWII, since many claim that having to register with a new designated legal name essentially outs them to others when they file any paperwork.

The Legislature had been asked some time ago by the Constitutional Court to fix all the deficiencies in the existing civil partnership law, but a bill in the conservative-leaning Parliament has stalled.

According to reports, the Linz judge seemed very empathetic to the plaintiffs’ plight, but still had some questions for the legal team:

I share their view yes, but how do you think that you could interpret the law unconstitutional? Since you will need an application to the Constitutional Court, right?

Diepresse states that three possible outcomes may occur: the lower court could ask the Constitutional Court to review the case and settle the marriage issue, it could side with the Civil Registry’s argument that the couple may not marry, or it could back the current matrimonial laws that are in place but instruct the Registry to help the couple with regards to child welfare.

The written verdict is expected to be released in a few weeks.

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

Georgian MPs Begin the Process of a Constitutional Ban on Same-sex Marriage

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On Friday, 81 members of Georgia’s ruling coalition and a few from one opposition party, began the process of changing the country’s constitution to state that marriages in the country are only recognized between men and women. A 15-member committee has been set up to take public opinions for a month.

Georgian matrimonial laws are already heterosexual-only as the Civil Code reads that marriage is the voluntary union between a man and woman, but several members of Parliament cite a recent case for marriage equality filed before the Constitutional Court as a reason to pass the ban.

Their plan is change the constitutional language of article 36 from “Marriage shall be based upon equality of rights and free will of spouses” to “Marriage, which is a voluntary union of a woman and a man with the purpose of creating a family, shall be based on equal rights of spouses.”

Several critics of the measure say that despite agreeing that marriage should remain between a man and woman, the ban is unnecessary because of the current Civil Code and that it amounts to “legitimizing Russian propaganda”. They also accuse the government of using this as a distraction.

A supporter of the ban countered the mention of propaganda by claiming that the marriage ban would remove fears that the European Union would impose same-sex marriage on the country and back the fight against anti-Western propaganda rather than help it spread.

After a month of public consultation, the proposal will enter Parliament. To be successful, the ban needs three hearings held on two different sessions with a three-month interval in between them and at least 113 of the 150 MPs voting in favor. If the initiative is not passed in time for October’s Parliamentary elections, then the proposal will move into the hands of the newly elected Legislature.

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

Slovenian Government Endorses New Same-sex Partnership Bill

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In 2009, the Slovenian Constitutional Court ordered Parliament to strengthen existing civil union legislation, especially in the area of inheritance. A third attempt at achieving this received the endorsement of the Prime Minister and his government earlier this month.

Two previous attempts have both resulted in conservative groups collecting signatures to force a referendum to roll back any progress made in Parliament.

Claiming that the 2011 Family Code reform was too similar to marriage and opposing the inclusion of some adoption rights, conservatives defeated the 2011 bill when the public voted down the proposal 55-45%. Although the proposal never became law, the stepchild adoption clause, which allows a person to adopt their partner’s biological child, was maintained.

The second try came when the new government decided to look into another civil union proposal before ultimately opting for marriage equality and legalizing full adoption rights for same-sex couples. In December of 2015, voters rejected the measure 63.5-36.5%.

Follwing the 2015 referendum, members of the liberal and conservative wing of Parliament both submitted new partnership bills. The government chose to back the proposal of an independent member who wants to give couples almost all the same rights as marriage barring joint adoption and in-vitro fertilization.

San Marino’s New Gender-Neutral Partnership Law in the Works

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Currently, San Marino has unregistered cohabitation for same-sex couples that is only for immigration purposes. In recent days, three different parties have each revealed new legislative drafts to expand the rights of unmarried cohabiting couples regardless of sexual orientation.

The centrist-leaning coalition voted down a proposal to recognize marriages performed abroad in September of 2015 and the presentation of a new partnership bill this month surprised many in the microstate since it was not included in the government program.

The main party of the 60-MP Legislature, the 21-seat strong Christian Democratic Party (CDP), says it realizes that unmarried couples are a reality and brought its proposal forward, but will not budge on speaking out against the issue of equal adoption rights for same-sex couples and surrogacy for which San Marino has no existing law.

The leftist LabDem and United Left party also presented their own proposals. The center-left junior coalition partner,  Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), has insisted that it will not accept any dilution of a partnership bill brought by its majority partner, CDP, while proposing their own law. The United Left includes adoption rights in their draft law and PSD’s bill may do the same and possibly bring the topic of stepchild adoption, or the right of a person to adopt their partner’s child, to the forefront.

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