In the first reading, the proposal on legalizing same-sex marriages passed through the Czech Chamber of Deputies. At the same time, MPs supported the proposed increase in the protection of marriage — through constitutional enshrinement — exclusively as a union between a man and a woman. Attempts to reject both drafts in the first reading were dismissed by the Lower House after Thursday’s four-hour discussion. They will now be reviewed by the relevant committees.
The committees will have 80 days to discuss the amendments instead of the standard 60 days; thus, it is uncertain if the legislators will decide on the proposals before the October elections.
The rejection of the amendment to the Civil Code on gay marriage was advocated by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and Tricolour Citizens’ Movement. The proposal received the support of 41 of the 93 members present. The draft will thus be discussed by the Constitutional-Legal and Social Committee.
Meanwhile, the Pirates sought to reject the protection of marriage as a union between a man and a woman by supplementing the constitutional charter of rights and freedoms. Their efforts were supported by 30 of the 95 deputies present. The amendment was sent to the Constitutional and Legal Committee and the Constitutional Commission.
Marriage for homosexuals was proposed by 46 deputies from six parliamentary clubs, namely the ANO movement, Pirates, Communist Party, Social Democrats, TOP 09, and STAN movement. The proposal for the constitutional protection of traditional marriage was signed by 37 deputies from Christian Democrats, ANO, Civic Democratic Party, Social Democratic Party, TOP 09, and STAN.
According to the amendment to the Civil Code, same-sex spouses would have the same rights and obligations as opposite-sex spouses. These include the creation of joint property, the right to a spouse’s pension after death, and the rights to and responsibilities for the children they bring up.
The aim of the draft Constitutional Act is to supplement the protection of the family with the protection of one of the basic building blocks of a family, which is considered to be the marriage between a man and a woman. The authors point to the historical grounding of marriage as, in principle, a permanent union of one man and one woman, especially in European civilization. According to them, the current definition of marriage needs to be protected from “the threat posed by efforts to question or transform it.”
In the last term, there was a proposal in the Chamber that would have allowed a registered partner to adopt a child of his or her counterpart. Critics warned against further expansion of the rights of homosexual people, while supporters pointed to the interests of the children. The Lower House did not decide on the draft by the end of the parliamentary term.
Title image: Revelers march during a Gay Pride Parade in downtown Prague, Czech Republic, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, when Prague hosted such an event for the first time. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)