Falkland Islands Says Yes to Same-sex Marriage

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Last March, on a vote of 7-1, the Falkland Islands’ Legislative Assembly approved gender-neutral marriage and civil partnership legislation which made the islands the latest addition in a growing list of British Overseas Territories to extend these rights to all couples.

The bill guarantees couples in civil partnerships the same parental rights as married couples and notes that “parents to a child may be two mothers or two fathers”.

Falkland couples will be able to enter a civil partnership or marry once the bill receives Royal Assent and a date of enactment is chosen by the Governor.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation on the Falkland Islands, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_the_Falkland_Islands.

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Aruba Approves Civil Unions

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After several postponements and heated debates, Aruba’s Parliament passed a civil union bill by a vote of 11-5 tonight.

The gender-neutral bill was brought forward by a local MP who married her female partner in the Netherlands and wished to address the issue of legal protection for non-married couples and same-sex couples already married within the Dutch Kingdom.

Despite all marriages performed within other regions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands being recognized on the island, same-sex couples cannot have their marriages performed in Aruba itself. Legal deficiencies are also present for couples of the same-sex as Aruba is not obligated to grant all the same rights to those marriages as it would with heterosexual couples.

The bill sought to bring in equal marriage in all but name. Supporters of the bill hope to see Parliament pass a same-sex marriage bill in the near future.

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

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

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

Final Vote on Italy’s Civil Unions Scheduled for Next Week

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Italy’s days as the last major Western European country not to afford same-sex couples legal recognition may soon be over next week.

According to The Local, the debate on Italy’s Civil Unions bill will begin on May 9th and end on the 12th with the final vote expected that Thursday.

The bill was approved in the Senate in February after fierce debates and a deluge of proposed amendments from conservative wings of Parliament. To overcome the flood of amendments, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had to employ a confidence vote, a measure that gambles his entire coalition, to be able to pass to the next round. Had his motion failed, new parliamentary elections would have been called.

Though Renzi has more allies in the Chamber, the Prime Minister said that another confidence vote will be called.

Stepchild adoption, the right of a person to adopt their partner’s child, was dropped to assure the bill’s passage and replaced with a clause that would respect a court’s decision to have the stepparents recognized if they won a case.

LGBT rights groups are unhappy with the current bill’s lack of stepchild adoption rights, but several MPs have revealed that a separate bill is in the works.

If the Civil Unions bill is approved as is in the Chamber of Deputies, it will be sent to the President for his signature.

Slovenia’s New Same-sex Partnership Bill Advances

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On Thursday, Slovenia’s National Assembly approved a same-sex partnership bill that will fix several deficiencies found in the country’s existing partnership legislation.

Back in 2009, the Constitutional Court of Slovenia ordered Parliament to upgrade their 2006 partnership law, especially in regards to pensions. Two attempts resulted in conservatives collecting enough signatures to force referendums that defeated the proposals by large margins. This third try may finally close some gaps found in same-sex unions.

In 2011, the Government attempted to make same-sex unions equal to marriage in all but full adoption rights, but the law was repealed after the public voted 54.5-44.5% against the proposal in 2012. Although most provisions of the law were rolled back to their 2006 state, a stepchild adoption clause that allows a person to adopt their partner’s child was retained.

A new coalition approved a change to the Family Code in 2015 that would make marriage gender-neutral and grant all couples joint adoption rights, but once again, conservative groups collected signatures to hold a referendum that resulted in the law’s defeat when voters rejected the law by a margin of 63-37%. Like 2012, last year’s vote had a very low turnout.

Following the 2015 referendum result, an Independent member of Parliament presented a partnership bill that would fulfill the Constitutional Court’s order and grant same-sex couples all of the benefits of marriage barring joint adoption and equal in-vitro rights, two legal provisions that conservative groups promised to collect signatures against if Parliament tried to approve them.

Slovenia’s National Assembly approved the new bill this week on a vote of 54-15. The bill now heads to the National Council who has seven days to decide if the Assembly must vote on it again.

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

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.