Slovenia’s parliament has legalized same-sex marriage, becoming the first Eastern European country to give same-sex couples rights equal to their heterosexual counterparts.
The country’s Constitutional Court ruled in July that the country’s prior bans on same-sex marriage and adoption were unconstitutional, and ordered Parliament to craft laws protecting LGBTQ rights in the country within the a six-month window following the ruling.
The legislation to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption rights, which passed Tuesday, cement the court’s ruling into law and satisfy strict constitutionalists who argue that only the legislative branch should make law.
The revised law passed on Tuesday, with 48 votes in favor, 29 against, and one abstention, reports Agence France Presse.
“With these changes, we simply state that differences should not give way to discrimination,” State Secretary Simon Maljevac told members of Parliament as he presented the amendment. “We recognize the rights of same-sex couples that they should have had a long time ago.”
The Slovenian Democratic Party, the county’s leading right-wing opposition party, was the chief opponent of the law change, having previously criticized the court’s ruling and organizing rallies, attended by thousands, opposing the expansion of rights for same-sex couples.
“Adoption is not about the rights of [same-sex] couples that wish to have a child, it’s about helping children,”Alenka Jeraj, the SDS leader in parliament, argued during debate.
“Not even the best father can replace a mother, and no mother can replace a father,” she argued.
Slovenia, which became an independent nation after the breakup of Yugoslavia, is the first former Communist country to adopt pro-LGBTQ family laws. Most of the countries other neighbors do not allow civil unions or same-sex marriages, and some even discourage any recognition of rights for LGBTQ citizens.
Prior to this year, the closest a former Communist nation came to recognizing same-sex unions as valid was Estonia, which in 2016 agreed to recognize same-sex unions legally performed in other countries. Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, and Montenegro have establishing same-sex civil partnerships, but not official civil unions.
Hungary even passed an anti-LGBTQ “propaganda” law, modeled after a similar law in Russia and approved last year by the country’s right-wing government, that prohibits discussions about LGBTQ identity in schools and portrayals — positive or neutral — of LGBTQ characters or real-life individuals in media.
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