Czech Republic takes first step toward legal gay marriage

Danny McCoy | December 20, 2005

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — The lower house of the Czech parliament approved a law legalizing civil partnerships for same-sex couples on Friday, in spite of strong opposition inside Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek's coalition government.

The Christian Democrats, the second largest group in the three-party government, refused to support the legislation, arguing that it damaged the traditional perception of the family.

However, many Communist Party deputies sided with Paroubek's left-wing Social Democrats, the main government party, to approve the bill, which could face a rough ride in the opposition-dominated Senate.

According to a lower house press official, 86 of the 147 deputies present voted in favor of the law while 54 were against and the rest abstained. Fifty-three others were not present during the vote.

According to Reuters, Paroubek supported the law, though he cound not attend because of a European Union summit.

The new rules allow same-sex couples to officially register their relationship. It also allows access to information on the health of a gay partner.

If the Senate rejects the legislation, the lower house can override it with an absolute majority of 101 in the 200-seat lower house.

Earlier this year, Spain legalized gay marriage. The Netherlands and Belgium also both allow gay marriage while a law legalizing same-sex unions goes into effect in the United Kingdom this coming week. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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