Recognition of same-sex unions in the Czech Republic

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The Czech Republic has offered registered partnerships for same-sex couples since 1 July 2006. Registered partnerships grant several of the rights of marriage, including inheritance, the right to declare a same-sex partner as next of kin, hospital visitation rights, jail and prison visitation rights, spousal privilege, and alimony rights, but do not allow joint adoption, widow's pension, or joint property rights. The registered partnership law was passed in March 2006 and went into effect on 1 July 2006.[1][2][3] The country also grants unregistered cohabitation status to "persons living in a common household" that gives couples inheritance and succession rights in housing.[4]

Registered partnerships[edit]

There had been several attempts to allow same-sex registered partnerships in the Czech Republic. In 1998, a partnership bill reached the Chamber of Deputies, but was defeated by two votes.[5] In 1999, the chamber voted against another bill.[6][7] In February 2001, the Zeman Cabinet presented a third bill, which was rejected by Parliament in October 2001.[8][9][10]

On 11 February 2005, another bill was defeated by one vote. It was backed by 82 out of the 165 deputies present, most voting in favour being Social Democrats, Communists, Freedom Union members and some deputies from the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS).[11]

In April 2005, a partnership bill passed its first reading in the chamber with 82 votes for and 9 against. On 16 December 2005, it passed its third reading with 86 votes for, 54 against, and 7 abstentions.[12] The legislation established registered partnerships (Czech: registrované partnerství, pronounced [ˈrɛɡɪstrovanɛː ˈpartnɛrstviː]) for same-sex couples, providing several of the rights of marriage, including inheritance, the right to declare a same-sex partner as next of kin, hospital visitation rights, jail and prison visitation rights, spousal privilege and alimony rights, but not allowing joint adoption rights, a widow's pension, or joint property rights.

16 December 2005 vote in the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic[13]
Party Voted for Voted against Abstained Absent or excused
 G  Czech Social Democratic Party -
  Civic Democratic Party
  Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
 G  Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party - -
 G  Freedom Union – Democratic Union -
  Independents - - -
Total 86 54 7 53

The legislation was passed by the Senate on 26 January 2006 in a 65–14 vote.[14][15]

On 16 February 2006, President Václav Klaus vetoed the bill.[16][17][18] In response, Prime Minister Jiří Paroubek said that he would seek a parliamentary majority (101 votes) in the lower chamber to override the veto and did so successfully on 15 March 2006 with the exact number of votes needed (101) out of 177 votes cast.[19][20][21][22]

15 March 2006 vote in the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic[23]
Party Voted for Voted against Abstained Absent or excused
 G  Czech Social Democratic Party
1
  • Eva Nováková (Abs)
  Civic Democratic Party
  Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
 G  Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party - -
 G  Freedom Union – Democratic Union - -
  Independents - - -
Total 101 57 18 21

In September 2014, a group of deputies introduced a bill to permit stepchild adoption by registered partners.[24] In October 2014, the Sobotka Cabinet decided not to take an official stance on the bill.[25] Instead, on 24 October 2016, it approved its own draft bill on the issue, and introduced it to Parliament on 8 November.[26][27][28][29][30] The bill was not brought to a vote before the 2017 legislative election.

There are a number of differences between registered partnerships and marriage. Registered partners do not have the same rights to shared property as married couples, do not receive the same tax benefits, and do not have the right to a widow or widower's pension or adoption rights.[31] Another major distinction is that registered partnerships can only be performed in the 14 regional capitals, whereas marriages can be performed in over 1,200 registry offices throughout the country. This was noted in a July 2016 report by the Ombudsman office, which also stated that a dying person in a hospital cannot enter into a partnership because of these restrictions.[32]

Statistics[edit]

By June 2009, 780 registered partnerships had been conducted in the Czech Republic.[33][34] By the end of 2010, that number had increased to 1,110, 66 of which had been dissolved.[35] A large majority of these partnerships involved two Czech citizens, though there were also several mixed couples with at least one partner from the United States, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.[36]

Number of registered partnerships in the Czech Republic[37][38]
Year Female couples Male couples Total
2006 64 187 251
2007 80 183 263
2008 70 163 233
2009 76 135 211
2010 53 150 203
2011 75 113 188
2012 78 129 207
2013 87 126 213
2014 100 142 242
2015 112 158 270
2016 147 201 348
2017 149 184 333
2018 160 158 318
2019 167 178 345
Total 1,418 2,207 3,625

Most partnerships are registered in Prague followed by Central Bohemia and South Moravia. The regions with the fewest partnerships are Zlín and Vysočina.[39]

From July 2006 to the end of 2019, 3,625 registered partnerships were performed in the country. During this same time period, 913 partnerships (25%) were dissolved, lower than the divorce rate between opposite-sex partners of about 50%. In 2018, 318 couples entered into registered partnerships, and for the first time the number of lesbian couples surpassed that of male couples.[40][41]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe¹
  Marriage
  Civil union
  Limited domestic recognition (cohabitation)
  Limited foreign recognition (residency rights)
  Unrecognized
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
¹ May include recent laws or court decisions that have not yet entered into effect.

The Green Party and the Pirate Party expressed support for same-sex marriage in their 2017 electoral programs.[42][43] Following the adoption of a same-sex marriage law by the German Bundestag in June 2017, Zbyněk Stanjura, a deputy from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), suggested that his party could agree to a free vote in Parliament.[44]

Before the October 2017 election, activists started a campaign called "We Are Fair" (Czech: Jsme fér, pronounced [ˈjsmɛ fɛːr]) to legalise same-sex marriage in the Czech Republic.[44][45] The campaign found that a majority of deputies from ANO 2011, the Pirate Party, the Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), TOP 09, and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) supported same-sex marriage, while a minority of ODS, Communist and Christian Democratic MPs supported same-sex marriage, and no deputy from the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party was in favour.[46] Prime Minister Andrej Babiš supports the legalisation of same-sex marriage.[47][48][49][50]

On 12 June 2018, a bill to legalise same-sex marriage, sponsored by 46 deputies, was introduced to the Chamber of Deputies.[51][52] Three days later, a group of 37 deputies proposed a constitutional amendment, which requires a two-thirds majority in the chamber, to define marriage as the "union of a man and a woman" in the Constitution of the Czech Republic.[53][54] On 22 June 2018, the Babiš Cabinet announced its support for the same-sex marriage bill.[55][56][57] The "We Are Fair" campaign presented 70,350 signatures in support of same-sex marriage to the Chamber of Deputies in late June.[58] The first reading of the same-sex marriage bill was scheduled for 31 October, but was delayed to 14 November.[59][60] As debate on both bills began, individual MPs spoke on both sides of the issue rather than split on party lines, indicative of a conscience vote.[61] A vote was expected in January 2019, but was postponed to 26 March 2019,[62] but then postponed again.

On 10 January 2019, President Miloš Zeman stated that he might veto the same-sex marriage bill if it is passed by Parliament.[63][64] Such a veto would force a second vote on the law, with the support of 101 deputies (50% + 1) required to override the presidential veto.

On 29 April 2021, a proposal to reject the bill at first reading failed, receiving 41 votes from the 93 deputies present,[65] and the bill has therefore progressed to the committee stage.[66] However, it did not advance further before the October 2021 election.[67]

In June 2022, a cross-party marriage-equality bill was introduced to the Chamber of Deputies, giving same-sex couples the right to joint property, to inherit their partner's pension and access to alternative family care.[68]

Public opinion[edit]

A 2007 poll from CVVM (Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění, Center for Public Opinion Research) indicated that 36% of Czechs supported the legalisation of same-sex marriage, while 57% were opposed.[45] A May 2017 opinion poll by CVVM found a 52% majority in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, with 41% opposed.[44]

A Median poll conducted in February 2018 (and published in April) found that 75% of Czechs supported the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry, while 19% were opposed. 13% believed that legalising same-sex marriage would threaten opposite-sex marriages, and 8% believed it would threaten them personally. Additionally, 61% of Czechs were in support of adoption by same-sex couples, while 31% were opposed.[69][70]

A poll from January 2019, when a same-sex marriage bill was scheduled to undergo first reading in Parliament, indicated that 61% of Czechs supported same-sex marriage. Various Czech celebrities also expressed support, including tennis player Martina Navratilova, singers Bára Basiková and Dara Rolins, photographer Robert Vano, actresses Simona Stašová and Anna Geislerová, and politician Ivan Bartoš.[71]

According to a June 2019 survey conducted between 4–14 May 2019 by CVVM, 75% of respondents supported registered partnerships with 20% opposed, 47% supported same-sex marriage with 48% opposed, and 60% supported stepchild adoption with 31% opposed.[72]

A Median poll published in January 2020 showed that 67% of Czechs supported same-sex marriage, and 62% supported joint adoption by same-sex couples.[73] The survey found a large generational gap, with younger respondents overwhelmingly in support, but those aged 55 and above mostly opposed.[74]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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