Prague Pride parade, August 2017

Czech MPs hold historic debate on same sex marriage

A historic debate in Czech parliament yesterday has laid the groundwork for the legalization of gay and lesbian marriages

Last month, we reported on a historic gay marriage vote that was headed to Czech parliament, which would lay the groundwork of deciding the legality of same-sex marriages in the Czech Republic.

That debate was delayed, but yesterday Czech politicians finally met to discuss the matter for the first time in the history of the Czech Republic.

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Two separate proposals were put forth by Czech members of parliament. A proposal from 46 Czech MPs, including members from ANO, STAN, ČSSD, and the Czech Pirate Party, would grant total equality to all marriages.

Opposing them, a measure spearheaded by the Christian Democrats and 37 signatories would keep the separation between marriage and registered partnerships that currently exists in the Czech Republic.

Unlike many other measures debated in parliament, individual MPs did not tow party lines. Besides the Pirate party in favor of the first proposal and the Christian Democrats behind the second, local political parties saw members on both sides of the debate.

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A third proposal, with limited support from a single MP, would grant equal rights to same-sex partnerships, but reserve the term ‘marriage’ for the binding of a man and woman.

To pass through the House, the proposal for marriage equality would need the support of 60% of the 200 members of Czech parliament.

While many urged their fellow MPs to hold a vote on the matter Wednesday, several hours of debate ended with no vote. Still, it’s a historic event within Czech parliament, and the first time the issue of same sex marriage has been officially raised.

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Further debate, and a potential vote on the issue, is expected in early December.

While gays and lesbians can currently obtain a registered partnership in the Czech Republic, there are a number of distinctions that separate their rights from those of a married couple.

Key among those: registered partners do not have the same rights to shared property as married couples, and do not get the same tax benefits; registered partners do not have the right to a widow or widower’s pension or other benefits; and registered partners do not have rights to adoption – – even of their spouse’s biological children (though another measure from Czech courts has fought to rectify this).

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“We are five to ten percent [of the population],” remarked Czech Defense Minister Karla Šlechtová.

The debate came following a lengthy campaign from the organization Jsme fér (We Are Fair). According to the campaign, 67% of Czechs are in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage.

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