Recognition of same-sex unions in Latvia

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Legal status of same-sex unions
Marriage
Performed
Recognized

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

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Latvia does not recognize same-sex unions, either in the form of partnership or marriage. The Latvian Constitution prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Partnership[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.

On 23 September 1999, the Latvian National Human Rights Office presented a registered partnership bill to the Saeima (Parliament). On 28 September 1999, the proposal was sent to the Human Rights and Public Affairs Commission of the Saeima for discussion.[1][2] On 30 November 1999, the commission rejected the bill.[3]

In January 2012, the Ombudsman's Office (the renamed National Human Rights Office since 2007) recommended to the Parliament to not introduce same-sex registered partnerships.[4] However, after Baltic Pride in June 2012, it was revealed that the Ministry of Justice was considering whether to recognise same-sex partnerships, either through unregistered cohabitation (Latvian: nereģistrēta kopdzīve) or registered partnership (reģistrētās partnerattiecībās). Defence Minister Artis Pabriks indicated his support of registered partnerships.[5] Mozaika, Latvia's largest gay rights organisation, predicted that it would take approximately five years to obtain enough political support to pass the bill.[6]

In November 2014, while commenting on the declaration by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs that he is gay and on his call for recognition of same-sex relationships, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma reaffirmed her support for the constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage. She also admitted that "Latvian law has not yet resolved the question of partner-relationships", explaining that non-recognition of unmarried couples affects many in Latvia regardless of sexual orientation and that protection of such families needed to be discussed by both the community and the Saeima.[7]

On 30 January 2015, Veiko Spolītis, an MP from the Straujuma's Unity party, submitted a bill to modify the Civil Code to legalise recognised partnerships. The proposed law would have allowed "any two persons" to register their partnership and have almost the same rights and obligations as married couples.[8][9] The proposal was rejected by the Legal Affairs Committee on 24 February 2015.[10][11]

On 23 March 2015, For Latvia's development chairperson, Juris Pūce, launched a signature collection campaign on ManaBalss.lv for the adoption of a cohabitation law in Latvia.[12] The draft bill stated that the registration of couples' cohabitations would secure equal rights to all members of society, regardless of gender. The signatures were submitted to the Saeima in January 2018. In March 2018, the Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee (Mandātu, ētikas un iesniegumu komisija) recommended that the initiative be rejected by the Saeima. 5 out of the 9 deputies voted to recommend rejection, while others wanted to send it for further consideration.[13] In October 2018, the Ombudsman called on lawmakers to pass a partnership law for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples, citing statistics that showed that about half of Latvian children are born out of wedlock, and that these families should enjoy legal protections and rights.[14] On 20 June 2019, Saeima MPs voted against sending the bill to further discussion and review in parliamentary commissions. Only 23 members voted for the bill, 60 voted against it and one member abstained, with support coming from the Development/For! and New Unity, plus some Social Democratic Party "Harmony" members. The Social Democratic Party "Harmony", Who Owns the State?, the New Conservative Party, the National Alliance "All For Latvia!" – "For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK" and the Union of Greens and Farmers as well as several independents were opposed. This means that the draft bill will not appear on the formal agenda of the Saeima.[15][16][17][18] Supporters of the bill have said that they will persevere and try to persuade deputies to discuss it again in the future.[19][20]

Marriage[edit]

Constitution[edit]

In December 2005, the Saeima voted 65-5 to approve an amendment to the Constitution, banning same-sex marriage.[21] The amendment took effect on 17 January 2006. Article 110 reads:[22]

The State shall protect and support marriage — a union between a man and a woman, the family, the rights of parents and rights of the child.[a]

Legal challenges[edit]

On 27 May 2016, the Constitutional Court of Latvia overturned an administrative court decision to refuse an application to register a same-sex marriage in the country. A Supreme Court press spokeswoman said that the court agrees with the administrative court that current regulations do not allow for same-sex marriages to be legally performed in Latvia. However, the matter should have been considered in a context not of marriage, but of registering familial partnership. Furthermore, it would have been impossible to conclude whether the applicants' rights weren't violated unless their claim is accepted and reviewed in a proper manner.[23] The Supreme Court will now decide whether the refusal was in breach of the Latvian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

2018 European Court of Justice ruling[edit]

On 5 June 2018, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that European Union member states (including Latvia) must recognise the freedom of movement and residency rights of same-sex spouses, provided one partner is an EU citizen.[24][25][26] The Court ruled that EU member states may choose whether or not to allow same-sex marriage, but they cannot obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen and their spouse. Furthermore, the Court ruled that the term "spouse" is gender-neutral, and that it does not necessarily imply a person of the opposite sex.[27][28]

The Latvian Government and the Pilsonības un migrācijas lietu pārvaldē (Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs) follow and abide by this directive. At least one same-sex couple, as of June 2018, have received a residency permit for the non-Latvian partner. The couple in question married in Portugal.[29]

Public opinion[edit]

The 2015 Eurobarometer found that 19% of Latvians supported same-sex marriage.[30]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In Latvian: Valsts aizsargā un atbalsta laulību — savienību starp vīrieti un sievieti, ģimeni, vecāku un bērna tiesības.

References[edit]

  1. ^ LATVIA: PARTNERSHIP LAW PRESENTED TO THE MEDIA AND SENT TO PARLIAMENT
  2. ^ LATVIA: PROGRESS ON PARTNERSHIP LAW
  3. ^ LATVIA KILLS PARTNER MEASURE
  4. ^ (in Latvian) Letter No. 1-8/4 to parliamentary committees on human rights and legal affairs by the Ombudsman J. Jansons 26 January 2012
  5. ^ "Pabriks: Latvijas likumdošanu nevar balstīt uz stereotipiem un idejām par politikas un baznīcas vienotību" (in Latvian). Delfi.lv. 2 June 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  6. ^ ""Mozaīka" prognozē partnerattiecību likuma pieņemšanu tuvākajā piecgadē" (in Latvian). Kasjauns.lv. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Straujuma: Latvijā jārada tiesisks regulējums visu veidu partnerattiecībām" (in Latvian). Kasjauns.lv. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  8. ^ "Saeimā iesniedz priekšlikumu par partnerattiecību legalizāciju" (in Latvian). Latvijas Sabiedriskie mediji. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Latvian Parliament to consider gender neutral partnership law in 2015". Gay Star News. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Noraida Spolīša rosinājumu ieviest dzimumneitrālu partnerattiecību institūtu" (in Latvian). Latvijas Sabiedriskie mediji. 24 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Saeimā noraida rosinājumu ieviest dzimumneitrālu partnerattiecību institūtu" (in Latvian). TV NET. 24 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Coalition sceptical about approving Cohabitation law". Baltic News Network. 24 March 2015.
  13. ^ (in Latvian) Saeimas Mandātu, ētikas un iesniegumu komisija šodien aicina Saeimai noraidīt iniciatīvu par Kopdzīves likumu!
  14. ^ 21st century family requires appropriate legal framework
  15. ^ "Latvia rejects Unmarried Couple's Law intended for cohabiting partners". Baltic News Network. 20 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Lesbisch-schwule Paare in Lettland weiterhin ohne Rechte". Queer.de (in German). 20 June 2019.
  17. ^ "Saeima rejects civil partnership bill". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 20 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Saeima noraida Dzīvesbiedru likumprojektu". apollo.lv (in Latvian). 20 June 2019.
  19. ^ Dzērve, Laura (20 June 2019). "Neraugoties uz Saeimas balsojumu par Dzīvesbiedru likumu, iniciatori sola neapstāties". Delfi.lv (in Latvian).
  20. ^ "Rinkēvičs par Dzīvesbiedru likumu - zaudēta kauja nenozīmē zaudētu karu". Delfi.lv (in Latvian). 22 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Latvia cements gay marriage ban". BBC. December 15, 2005.
  22. ^ "Latvijas Republikas Satversme". Likumi.lv (in Latvian).
  23. ^ "Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage request will be considered". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 27 May 2016.
  24. ^ EU states must recognize foreign same-sex marriages: court, Reuters, June 5, 2018
  25. ^ Rights for same-sex married couples to move around the EU confirmed in landmark ruling, Yahoo News, June 6, 2018
  26. ^ Alina Tryfonidou (June 7, 2018). "Rights for same-sex married couples to move around the EU confirmed in landmark ruling". The Conversation.
  27. ^ "Same-sex spouses have equal residency rights". BBC News. June 6, 2018.
  28. ^ JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (Grand Chamber) 5 June 2018
  29. ^ "ES Tiesas spriedums: laulāto draugu Adriana un Kleija izcīnītā kopābūšana" (in Latvian). DELFI. 15 June 2018.
  30. ^ DISCRIMINATION IN THE EU IN 2015