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marriage and allowing same-sex couples the right to adopt their partner’s biological child was passed, but eventually repealed through the first of two public votes against a proposal on same-sex unions.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

Mexico: Morelos Approves Same-sex Marriage Bill

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Morelos becomes the next Mexican state to approve a same-sex marriage bill today when their Congress voted 20-6 in favor of modifying the state constitution to make marriage gender-neutral.

As the proposal is a state constitutional change, it must be ratified by Morelos’ 33 municipalities before it can become law and allow same-sex couples to marry.

Morelos will join Mexico City and the states of Campeche, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit and Quintana Roo as places in the country that have given the green light to same-sex marriage.

For all other states, couples must file an injunction that Civil Registries will respect. The injunctions take time and are expensive even though they are always successful.

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

Mexico: Michoacán Becomes 9th State to Approve Same-sex Marriage

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Michoacán’s Congress voted 27-0 with 8 abstentions today to update their Family Code and make marriage gender-neutral.

For months, members from all the parties in Congress told the press that the law was unstoppable and the right thing to do as both an order from the Supreme Court and as a rights issue.

After a judge last year gave the previous Congress a deadline to pass a marriage bill, the Legislature asked for more time and passed a domestic partnership law instead.

The Mexican Supreme Court already ruled that separate but equal was discriminatory and unconstitutional so activists filed a lawsuit shortly after the passage of the partnership law.

The threat of Supreme Court action and a new seemingly friendlier make up of Congress increased pressure on the state to pass a same-sex marriage bill.

The law will come into effect after it is promulgated and printed in the state’s Official Gazette.

Michoacan is the 9th region to give same-sex couples the green light after Mexico City and the states of Campeche, Chihuahua, Coahuila, most municipalities in Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit, Quintana Roo and Sonora.

For all other states, couples who wish to marry can file an injunction that the Civil Registry must repect, but the process is timely and expensive.

Marriages conducted in Mexico are recognized on both a state level and a federal level.

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

Swiss Parliament Approves Stepchild Adoption Bill

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Last week, Switzerland’s stepchild adoption bill was approved in its final vote in the Legislature.

Stepchild adoption, the right of a person to adopt their partner’s biological child, will be granted to non-married couples regardless of gender if the bill becomes law.

The bill was passed by large majorities in both chambers of Swiss Parliament.

In March, Switzerland’s upper house, the Council of States, approved the adoption reform by a 25-14 vote while the lower house, the National Council, approved the bill on a vote of 113-64 last Saturday.

According to the Wikipedia page following LGBT progress in Switzerland, opponents of the bill may still force a referendum under Swiss law if they collect 50,000 signatures within 100 days. Failure to do so will result in the adoption bill becoming law.

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