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Czech marriage equality bill faces uncertain future after “historic vote”


Prague, Czech Republic – Despite the Czech Republic inching closer to legalising same-sex marriage following Thursday’s “historic vote“, the fate of the bill remains uncertain with general elections less than six months away.

Equality marriage bill approved in first reading in “historic” Czech vote

On Thursday, the lower house of Parliament approved – following a heated four-hour debate streamed live in a half-empty assembly – in a first reading a draft bill that would legalise same-sex marriage.

The vote, which was postponed for nearly three years since the draft law was first submitted to Parliament, has been described as “historic” by LGBT and gay marriage activists, and pushes the Czech Republic closer to becoming the first country from the former Eastern bloc to legalise same-sex marriage.

The proposal to reject the amendment legalising gay marriage was only supported by 41 MPs out of 93 present. Similarly, the attempt to dismiss the counter constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was only supported by 30 lawmakers.

Both texts will therefore move to the second stage of committee discussions.

Marriage equality bill faces uncertain fate as Czech election looms

Whether the draft document, which enjoys wide popular support, will become law remains uncertain. The marriage equality bill will now head to a committee debate before being submitted to a final vote by the House of Representatives. Committees will have 80 days to discuss the text instead of the standard 60 days.

With legislative elections scheduled at the start of October, most analysts insist that it’s highly uncertain whether or not the final vote will be able to take place by the time Czechs elect their new MPs.

Lawmakers on Thursday also approved in a first reading a counter-bill that would enshrine in the Constitution the definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, de-facto banning same-sex marriages in the Czech Republic. For it to be adopted, the constitutional ban needs a 3/5 majority in the lower house of Parliament, while the amendment to the Czech civil code legalising gay marriage only needs a simple majority of lawmakers present.

Most political parties represented in Parliament, including Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ governing ANO movement, are divided on the issue, often leaving MPs vote individually.

President Milos Zeman has already vowed to veto the bill legalising gay marriage – although the presidential veto can be overridden by a simply majority of lawmakers.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.