Recognition of same-sex unions in Slovenia
|Legal status of same-sex unions|
* Not yet in effect
Slovenia has recognized partnerships for same-sex couples since 23 July 2006. The law gives same-sex partners access to one another's pensions and property. Though a new Family Code was passed on 16 June 2011 by the then-governing coalition which would have given registered same-sex partners all the rights of married couples, except with regards to joint adoption, the motion was rejected by voters.
Legalisation of same-sex marriage was approved by the country's parliament in 2015. However, it may yet be over-turned dependending on the results of a popular referendum to be held on the subject on 20 December 2015. If the law is implemented Slovenia will become the first country in Central Europe, the first country in post-communist Europe and the first Slavic country to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Registration of same-sex partnerships Act 2005
A law establishing partnerships was adopted on 22 June 2005, titled Zakon o registraciji istospolne partnerske skupnosti (ZRIPS). The law covers only property relations, the right/obligation to support a socially weaker partner, and inheritance rights to a degree. It does not grant any rights in the area of social security (social and health insurance, pension rights) and it does not confer the status of a next-of-kin to the partners. The adoption of this law sparked a political debate in the National Assembly, with Slovenian National Party deputies opposing recognition of same-sex partners. The opposition Social Democrats and Liberals, arguing that the law proposed was too weak, refused to take part in the voting, leaving the chamber. The vote succeeded with 44 votes for and 3 against.
A more comprehensive Registered Partnership Bill passed the first reading in Parliament in July 2004 but was rejected by Parliament during the second reading in March 2005. The bill would have provided for all rights inherent to marriage apart from joint adoption rights.
On 31 March 2005, the government proposed a new partnership bill, described above, providing access to pensions and property. It was passed in July 2005, and became effective on 23 July 2006.
On 2 July 2009, the Constitutional Court found that it was unconstitutional to prevent registered partners from inheriting each other's property. It held that treating registered partners differently from married partners constituted discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, breaching Article 14 of the Slovenian Constitution. It gave the Parliament six months to remedy the situation. In response, the Minister of the Interior, Katarina Kresal (LDS), announced the government would prepare a new law, which would legalise same-sex marriage. This sparked a considerable controversy in the public.
Family Code 2011
On 2 July 2009, the Minister of the Interior, Katarina Kresal (LDS), announced that Slovenia is likely to legalize same-sex marriage in the near future, citing the government's commitment to provide equal rights for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. The announcement stirred some level of public controversy, mainly because it provided grounds for same-sex adoption.
On 21 September 2009, the Government presented a draft of the new Family Code, which would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The bill went through a period of public debate until 1 November 2009. In December 2009, the Government considered amendments to the bill, which was expected to be voted upon in 2010. On 17 December 2009, the Government approved the Family Code. It was submitted to the National Assembly on 21 December 2009. On 2 March 2010, the bill was approved by the Assembly in the first reading.
On 24 January 2011, the Government announced its intention to change the bill before its final version is passed by the National Assembly. The amendments would be made due to the difficulty of passing the bill. Marriage would be defined as a union between a man and a woman, but same-sex registered partnerships would have all rights of marriage except joint adoption (step-child adoption would be allowed).
The new law was challenged on 1 September 2011 by a conservative popular movement 'The Civil Initiative for the Family and Rights of Children', which called for a national referendum on the issue, and started gathering the requisite popular support. In response, the Government asked the Constitutional Court to judge whether such a referendum would be constitutional. On 26 December 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled that holding referendum on this issue is constitutional. A referendum on 25 March 2012 led to the rejection of the bill.
On 3 March 2010, the Constitutional Court in Slovenia ruled that a male couple with a dual Slovenian-U.S. citizenship, who adopted a baby girl in the United States, were to be recognised as the child's legal parents in Slovenia as well. On 17 July 2011, the Ministry for Work, Family and Social Affairs allowed for a woman to adopt her same-sex partner's biological offspring, on the basis of a 1976 law. This raised the possibility that such adoption could be possible even if the 2011 Family Code were to be repealed in a referendum.
Partnership bill 2014
On 14 April 2014, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities has presented a bill to grant partnerships all the rights of marriage, except adoption and assisted reproduction. It was under public consultation process until 5 May 2014. However, the bill's future fate was uncertain due the early parliamentary elections on 13 July 2014, which were held following the resignation of Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek. On 15 October 2014, the Ministry announced another public consultation on a draft, which lasted until 15 November. In January 2015, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Anja Kopač Mrak said that a bill was put on hold while the proposal to legalise same-sex marriage is considered by the parliament.
On 15 December 2014, the opposition party United Left (ZL) introduced a bill into Parliament that would legalise same-sex marriage. The sponsors of the bill say the goal is to provide equal rights to all members of society. The sponsors of the bill claim that the bill would extend constitutional rights to all groups. The constitution provides that all have equal rights, but these rights have thus far been denied to homosexual couples.
On 29 January 2015, the government expressed no opposition to the bill. Two of the three parties of the governing coalition SMC and SD backed the bill, as did the opposition parties ZL and ZaAB. The third party of the coalition DeSUS decided to allow a conscience vote in its ranks. Only SDS and NSi opposed it.
On 3 March, the Assembly passed the bill in the third reading, in a 51-28 vote. On 10 March 2015, the National Council rejected a motion to require the Assembly to vote on the bill again, in a 14-23 vote. The bill awaits promulgation by the President.
On 10 March 2015, opponents of the bill announced that they have collected more than 80,000 signatures to call for the referendum. They filed 2,500 of them, as required, in order to be allowed to proceed with the petition for popular vote.
On 17 March 2015, the leader of the SMC parliamentary group said that, although the party supports same-sex marriage legislation, it would not try to prevent possible referendum on the issue. United Left, the main proponent of the bill, criticized the statement. However, on 19 March, the SMC politicians clarified that they are just against blocking proponents from collecting signatures under the petition, and that the party will support the motion to block the referendum, when signatures are submitted.
On 23 March 2015, a thirty-five-day term began in which the proposers of an eventual referendum against the law have to collect 40,000 valid signatures. On the same day, a group of 23 deputies from SD, DeSUS, ZL and ZaAB filed a request to call an extraordinary session of the Assembly in order to vote on a motion to block the referendum. On 26 March, the National Assembly voted 53–21 to block the referendum on the ground that it would violate the constitutional provision which prohibits popular votes on laws eliminating an unconstitutionality in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The proponents of the referendum, who had announced that they have collected 48,146 signatures before the Assembly's vote, said they would appeal the decision to the Constitutional Court, which they did on 2 April.
Petition to Constitutional Court
The Court had the option of declaring the referendum unconstitutional, as Article 90 of the constitution prohibits referenda on the subject of constitutionally protected human rights. Any referendum in Slovenia is only successful if a majority of participants and at least 20% of all eligible voters vote against the law.
The Constitutional Court deliberated about the appeal in four sessions on 10 June, 9 July, 10 September and 24 September. In October 2015, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ljubljana, Stanislav Zore, intervened politically to signal his support for the referendum.
On 22 October 2015, the Court officially published its decision, which permitted the referendum to proceed. However, the ruling did not address article 90 making a new challenge to the referendum possible. The ruling solely regarded the ability of the National Assembly to declare a referendum unconstitutional.
A Eurobarometer survey published on December 2006 showed that 31% of Slovenians surveyed support same-sex marriage and 17% recognise same-sex couples' right to adopt (EU-wide average 44% and 33%).
A survey conducted in October 2009 showed that 23% of respondents supported adoption rights for same-sex couples, while 74% opposed.
A poll conducted by Delo Stik in February 2015 showed that 59% of Slovenians surveyed supported same-sex marriage, 37% were against. A separate question in the same survey found that 51% of Slovenians supported the bill, which was debated in the National Assembly at the time, to allow such marriages and adoptions by same-sex couples, while 42% were against. The poll also showed that 38% of respondents supported adoptions by same-sex couples and 55% were against.
Another poll conducted by Ninamedia in March 2015 showed that 42% of respondents support the new law, while 54% oppose. The support is highest among those younger than 30, and in the region Slovene Littoral.
A poll conducted by Delo in March 2015 showed that majority of respondents think that the Constitutional Court should not allow a referendum on the subject. Of those who said they would participate in a possible referendum, 36% said they would support the law, and 50% said they would vote against it.
The 2015 Eurobarometer found that 54% of Slovenians thought that same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe, 40% were against.
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