Same-sex marriage amendment passes in first reading: What's next as gay rights move ahead in Czechia?

The first reading is big step, but the amendment still has a long road ahead before it becomes part of the law. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 30.06.2023 09:26:00 (updated on 30.06.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Chamber of Deputies approved an amendment to the Civil Code legalizing marriage for same-sex couples in a first reading late yesterday when the draft withstood its opponents' proposals to reject it and return it to the drafters for reworking. The debate between the supporters and opponents in parliament lasted more than seven hours.

This is just the first major hurdle in passing the amendment, which still has to go through a second lower house reading before going to the Senate, and if approved there, to the president for his signature.

Under the amendment, people of the same sex would have the same rights in marriage as a woman and a man have now. These include the creation of joint property, entitlement to widow's and widower's pensions, rights and obligations to the children they raise, and access to substitute family care. Registered partnerships, which same-sex couples can now enter into, would virtually disappear as an institution.

A big first step

The bill will now be assessed by the lower house's Constitutional and Law Committee and the Committee for the Family. They will have four months to do so, instead of the usual two.

Deputies began debating the possibility of marriage for same-sex couples in the opening round in late May and came to the first reading vote yesterday.

The only group of deputies whose entire membership supported rejecting the amendment was the junior opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD). The groups of the government Mayors and Independents (STAN), Pirates, and TOP 09 were unanimously against the rejection.


In connection with the marriage for all, lower house Speaker Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09) spoke in the morning about a possible agreement on a compromise. She mentioned parental rights and the name of the institution of marriage, which is one of the main points of criticism of opponents of the enactment of marriage for same-sex couples.

The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) in the afternoon proposed another amendment that would extend the rights of same-sex couples in the Registered Partnership Law, which it would rename civil partnerships. The amendment was rejected.

A recent poll by the Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM) showed that 58 percent of Czechs supported same-sex marriage

Constitutional protection of marriage also being debated

Another proposal, which declares the protection of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, is an amendment to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, a part of the Czech Constitution. Passing through the first reading, it will be debated by parliament in parallel with the proposal of marriage for all. In the first reading, the Chamber gave the green light to both drafts although they run counter to each other.

As for the constitutional enshrinement of marriage, the proposal for its rejection was supported by only 37 MPs from the Pirates, STAN, and TOP 09 out of 131 MPs present. Even the opponents subsequently supported further discussion of the bill.

"We, as promoters, are ready to discuss those individual parameters. We do not insist that a compromise option cannot be agreed upon. It can relate to parental rights as well as the name [of the institution]," Pekarová Adamová said.

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