Georgia’s Parliament Passes Constitutional Ban On Same-sex Marriage

Georgia Flag

Using their 3/4 majority of the 150-seat Parliament, the ruling coalition in Georgia approved a complete overhaul of the Georgian Constitution on Tuesday which includes an article stating that marriage is recognized as being solely “a union between a woman and a man for the purpose of creating a family.” The opposition boycotted the vote as they left the chamber in protest during the final reading.

Despite earlier requests from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission to drop the ban, Georgia has become the latest nation to attempt to add a legal barrier to their highest legislation.

If the newly-approved constitutional package is not vetoed by the Georgian President, or if a Presidential veto is overridden by Parliament, Georgia will become the second Caucasus country after Armenia to forbid same-sex couples from wedding through their Constitution.

Currently, only the Georgian Civil Code bars same-sex couples from marrying and the Constitution merely describes marriage in gender-neutral terms.

The goal by conservative groups to add a constitutional ban gained steamed during election time when high-ranking members of Government doubled down on a ban proposal after the President of Georgia vetoed an effort to hold a referendum on the marriage issue. A lawsuit aiming to afford all couples the right to marry highlighted the topic as well, and the court case is still pending before the Georgian Constitutional Court.

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

Advertisements

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

Georgia Flag

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)

 

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

Georgia Flag

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

Romania: Initiative to Ban Gay Marriage Gathers 2 Million Signatures So Far

600px-Flag_of_Romania

Romania is one of the few countries in Europe that neither recognize same-sex unions nor ban them in their constitution. The conservative umbrella group, Coalition for Family, is planning a citizens initiative to constitutionally ban gay marriage in Romania. Their aim is to replace the current matrimonial definition stating that marriage is “a union between two spouses” with the words “a union of one man and one woman”.

In the beginning, only a handful of priests joined the group’s effort and began collecting signatures from their parishes on their own during the holidays, but after the Romanian Orthodox Church officially endorsed the initiative, the number has ballooned to a reported 2.16 million. Only 500,000 signatures from eligible voters are required for the constitutional change initiative to enter Parliament, but the group says that it wants to send a message to the Legislature and collect as many as possible before the six month period is over.

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

 

Swiss Voters Reject Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage

320px-flag_of_switzerland_28pantone29-svg

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.

swiss3-660x330

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

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

320px-flag_of_mexico-svg

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

Swiss LGBT to Use the Power of the Post

320px-flag_of_switzerland_28pantone29-svg

The Gemeinsam Weiter (Moving Forward Together) group mentioned in a previous article about the upcoming Swiss referendum has started a mailing campaign titled “Write Your Grandmother“. The goal is to send a card to friends and loved ones urging them to vote ‘No’ on February 28th. The campaign wants to send out mail describing what will happen if the referendum is successful and the only requirement is to fill in the sender and recipient’s name. Moving Forward Together would then send the post completely free of charge. The message written on the card was kindly translated by my friend Robin:

On 28 February 2016, Switzerland votes on the Christian People’s Party initiative “For marriage and family – against the penalty of marriage”. This would abolish the penalty of marriage, which would benefit only 80.000 couples. Furthermore it would define marriage as the “bond of man and woman” into the Federal Constitution, which excludes same-sex couples from marriage: a discrimination of about 500.000 gay people in Switzerland. Were the initiative adopted, the legislature has no possibility to open marriage to same-sex couples without a further constitutional amendment. My plea to you: say NO to discrimination and unequal treatment and vote NO. Thank you very much. Kind regards

A counter initiative to legalize gay marriage in the country is still pending in Parliament.