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Czech Republic to vote on legalisation of same-sex marriage

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Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Parliament is due to discuss a bill on the legalisation of same-sex marriage tomorrow.

Initiated by MP Barbora Koranova (ANO) and supported by 50 lawmakers from different parties, an extraordinary session of the lower house of Parliament will convene on Thursday to discuss and possibly vote on an Equal Marriage bill to legalise gay marriage in the Czech Republic.

“We are very excited and hopeful about tomorrow’s session,” Adela Horakova from the Jsme Fer organisation, told Kafkadesk. “After almost three years of debates and obstructions, the marriage equality bill has a high chance of being voted on.”

Czech lawmakers will at the same time discuss a counter-proposal that would define marriage as the union between a man and a woman in the Constitution and de-facto ban same-sex marriage.

The amendment to the Czech Civil Code to legalise gay marriage was first submitted three years ago by a group of MPs from across the political spectrum (ANO, Pirate Party, CSSD, Top 09, STAN and the Communist Party). It has since been debated at least three times in the lower house of Parliament, but has always faced the obstruction and filibustering techniques of lawmakers opposing the bill.

“The result of the potential vote tomorrow is hard to predict,” Ms. Horakova pondered. “It will largely depend on which MPs will be present,” she added, noting that only half of lawmakers are currently allowed to be present due to COVID-19 restrictions, and that it remains to be seen whether or not parties who oppose the bill will “refrain from further obstructions” or not.

Most parliamentary groups, including the ruling ANO party of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, are divided on the issue, while lawmakers from ODS, KDU-CSL and the far-right SPD have led counter-attempts to introduce a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Ahead of Thursday’s vote, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI rights issued a statement, saying that “extending marriage to all couples in a spirit of support and acceptance can galvanise equality for all citizens of the Czech Republic and further define it as a country where the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual persons are supported, respected and defended.”

“We are very touched by the outpouring of support we’ve received ever since the extraordinary session was convened,” Adela Horakova from Jsme Fer told Kafkadesk. “Anyone can watch the session live on the website of the Czech Parliament. We will certainly be glued to the screens.”

The most recent surveys show that a majority of the Czech population (around two-thirds) is in favour of legalising same-sex marriage. Compared to their Slovak or Polish neighbours, Czechs have long been described as arguably the most liberal in Central Europe, channeling the hopes of LGBT activists from across the region for the Czech Republic to become the first former Eastern bloc country to legalise gay marriage.

Registered partnerships for same-sex couples have been legal in the country since 2006.

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