Recognition of same-sex unions in Slovakia

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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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Slovakia does not recognise same-sex marriages or civil unions. In addition, the Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples. Bills to recognise same-sex partnerships were introduced four times, in 1997, in 2000, in 2012 and in 2018, but were all rejected.

There is some legal recognition for unregistered cohabiting same-sex couples, however. Limited rights for a "close person" are recognised under civil and penal law.[1][2]

Furthermore, per a June 2018 European Court of Justice ruling, same-sex couples have had their freedom of movement and residency rights recognised. This applies only if at least one partner is an EU citizen and if their marriage was performed in an EU member state.[3] Slovak authorities quickly announced compliance with the ruling.[4]

Unregistered cohabitation[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.

Since 2018, Slovak civil and penal law has recognised a "close person" (Slovak: blízka osoba), defined as a sibling or a spouse; a family member or a person in a relationship shall be considered under law a "close person" "if an injury suffered by one of them is reasonably felt by the other person as an injury suffered by him or her." Only limited rights are granted, namely in the area of inheritance.[1][2]

Registered partnership[edit]

In 2008 and 2009, the LGBT rights group Iniciatíva Inakosť (Otherness Initiative) launched a public awareness campaign for the recognition of registered life partnerships (Slovak: životné partnerstvo) between same-sex couples. In January 2008, LGBT rights activists met with the Deputy Prime Minister, Dušan Čaplovič, to discuss this proposal. Throughout 2008, Iniciatíva Inakosť also held a number of public discussions about registered partnerships.[5] The Green Party supports registered partnerships for same-sex and opposite-sex couples.[6]

In March 2012, the liberal party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) announced that it would submit a draft law on registered partnerships.[7] On August 23, the registered partnership bill was submitted to Parliament, which would have given same-sex couples similar rights and obligations as married couples, including alimony, inheritance, access to medical documentation and the right to a widow's/widower's pension, but excluding adoption rights.[8][9] On September 19, the ruling party, Direction - Social Democracy (Smer) announced that it would vote against the bill,[10] which was later rejected by 14-94.[11]

In August 2017, Deputy Speaker of the National Council Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová of SaS promised to re-submit draft legislation on registered partnerships to Parliament.[12]

On 11 December 2017, following a meeting with Iniciatíva Inakosť representatives, President Andrej Kiska called for a public debate about the rights of same-sex couples.[13] On the same day, SaS reiterated its intention to introduce the registered partnership bill.[14]

SaS introduced its registered partnership bill to the National Council in July 2018. Under the proposed bill, partnerships would have been open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples and would have granted couples several rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples, namely in the area of inheritance and healthcare, among others.[15] The bill was defeated in September 2018, with only 31 out of 150 lawmakers in support.[16]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

In January 2014, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) announced that it would submit a draft law to prohibit same-sex marriage in the Slovak Constitution.[17] In February 2014, Minister of Culture Marek Maďarič said there were enough SMER-SD MPs in favour of the constitutional ban for it to pass.[18] 40 opposition MPs introduced a draft law to the National Council to ban same-sex marriage in the Slovak Constitution.[19] Slovakia's Social Democratic Prime Minister Robert Fico said that the governing SMER-SD would be willing to support the amendment in exchange for the opposition's support for an amendment introducing changes in the judicial system.[20] The bill passed its first reading in a 103-5 vote in March 2014.[21] The amendment could cause any future laws recognising same-sex couples to be unconstitutional.[22][23] In June 2014, it was passed and signed into law by President Ivan Gašparovič, with 102 MPs voting for and 18 against.[24] Article 41 reads as follows:[25][26]

Marriage is a unique union between a man and a woman. The Slovak Republic protects marriage in all of its aspects and supports its welfare. Marriage, parenthood and family are under the protection of the law. Special protection of children and juveniles is guaranteed.[a]

2015 referendum[edit]

In December 2013, a conservative civil initiative group Aliancia za rodinu (Alliance for the Family) announced that it would demand a constitutional definition of marriage as "a union solely between a woman and a man".[27] The Alliance intended to initiate referendums on several issues, and demanded a ban on same-sex adoption and the prohibition of sex education in schools. They also suggested that other types of cohabitation should not be held equal to marriage between a man and a woman.[28][29] Activists from the Alliance also criticised Swedish company Ikea for its corporate magazine, which featured two lesbians raising a son.[30]

In August 2014, Aliancia za rodinu collected more than 400,000 signatures for a petition to hold a referendum on 4 questions:[31]

1. Do you agree that no other cohabitation of persons other than a bond between one man and one woman can be called marriage?

2. Do you agree that same-sex couples or groups shouldn't be allowed to adopt children and subsequently raise them?

3. Do you agree that no other cohabitation of persons other than marriage should be granted particular protection, rights and duties that the legislative norms as of 1 March 2014 only grant to marriage and to spouses (mainly acknowledgement, registration, or recording as a life community in front of a public authority, the possibility to adopt a child by the spouse of a parent)?

4. Do you agree that schools cannot require children to participate in education pertaining to sexual behaviour or euthanasia if their parents or the children themselves do not agree with the content of the education?

President Andrej Kiska asked the Constitutional Court to consider the proposed questions.[32] In October 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that the third question was unconstitutional.[33]

A referendum on the other three questions was held on 7 February 2015. All three proposals were approved, but the referendum was declared invalid due to insufficient turnout (21.07%). The referendum required a 50% turnout to be valid.[34] Opponents, including LGBT activists, advised voters to boycott the referendum.

2018 European Court of Justice ruling[edit]

On 5 June 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of a Romanian-American same-sex couple who sought to have their marriage recognised in Romania so that the American partner could reside in the country.[3] 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.[3] Furthermore, the Court ruled that the term "spouse" is gender-neutral, and that it does not necessarily imply a person of the opposite sex.[3] Same-sex couples resident in Slovakia who have married in member states that have legalised same-sex marriage, and where one partner is an EU citizen, enjoy full residency rights as a result of the ruling.[4] The Slovak Interior Ministry quickly announced immediate compliance with the ruling.[35]

While the ruling was well received by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and other human rights groups, it was condemned by the Slovak Catholic Church.[36][37]

Public opinion[edit]

Public opinion has shifted in Slovakia in the past few years, becoming more favourable to granting rights to same-sex couples. According to a poll conducted in 2009, 45% of respondents supported same-sex registered partnerships, 41% were opposed, and 14% were unsure.[38] Support for specific rights was higher, with 56% supporting the right of same-sex couples to jointly own property, 72% to access medical information about their partner and 71% supporting the right to bereavement leave.[5]

Support for the rights of same-sex couples 2008[5] 2009[5] 2012[39] 2015[40][41] 2016[42] 2017[43]
YES [%] NO [%] YES [%] NO [%] YES [%] NO [%] YES [%] NO [%] YES [%] NO [%] YES [%] NO [%]
"Same-sex registered partnership" 42 45 45 41 47 38 50 35 40 55 - -
"Mutual maintenance duty among partners" 47 32 51 29 50 31 - - - - - -
"Right for tax benefits" 41 43 43 39 45 38 - - - - - -
"Right for spousal pension for deceased partner" 45 37 45 37 48 36 - - - - - -
"Access to information about medical condition of partner" 64 21 72 16 75 15 - - - - - -
"Right to day-off if partner requires accompaniment to doctor" 54 - 57 - 58 - - - - - - -
"Right to bereavement leave" 69 - 71 - 73 - - - - - - -
"Right to mutual inheritance" 58 - 56 - 60 - - - - - - -
"Possibility to establish undivided co-ownership" 55 - 56 - 57 - - - - - - -
"Right to nursing benefit during care for sick partner" 58 - 61 - 61 - - - - - - -
"Same-sex marriage" - - - - - - 24 69 27 69 47 47
"Adoption of children" - - - - - - - - 20 75 - -

However, support for same-sex marriage remains low compared to other European Union member states. The 2015 Eurobarometer found that 24% of Slovaks supported same-sex marriage, the fourth lowest among EU member states alongside Lithuania. EU-wide support was 61%.[44]

According to a 2017 Pew Research Center poll, 47% of Slovaks supported same-sex marriage, with 47% opposed and 6% undecided. Among 18-34-year-olds, opposition to same-sex marriage was 42%.[43]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In Slovak: Manželstvo je jedinečný zväzok medzi mužom a ženou. Slovenská republika manželstvo všestranne chráni a napomáha jeho dobru. Manželstvo, rodičovstvo a rodina sú pod ochranou zákona. Zaručuje sa osobitná ochrana detí a mladistvých.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Zák. č. 40/1964 Z. z. Občiansky zákonník
  2. ^ a b Zák. č. 301/2005 Z. z. Trestný poriadok
  3. ^ a b c d "Same-sex spouses have EU residence rights, top court rules". BBC News. 5 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (Grand Chamber) 5 June 2018
  5. ^ a b c d Iniciatíva Inakosť
  6. ^ 7 bodov pre krajšie a zdravšie Slovensko "podpora registrovaných partnerstiev medzi ľuďmi rozdielneho aj rovnakého pohlavia"
  7. ^ SaS predloží partnerstvá gejov Denník SME, 2012
  8. ^ SaS proposes same-sex registered partnership Denník SME, 2012
  9. ^ Návrh zákona o registrovanom partnerstve
  10. ^ Vládny Smer-SD registrované partnerstvá homosexuálov nepodporí
  11. ^ Slovak parliament rejects gay partnership law
  12. ^ (in Slovak) Na Dúhový pochod prišli tisíce ľudí, potlesk zožala najmä ombudsmanka, ktorá sa nezľakla SNS (+fotogaléria)
  13. ^ President Kiska calls for discussion on the rights of same-sex couples
  14. ^ (in Slovak) Tímlíderkou SaS pre osobné slobody sa stala Natália Blahová
  15. ^ "Nový návrh zákona od SaS: Kompromis pre heterosexuálne aj homosexuálne páry!?". Nový čas. 23 July 2018.
  16. ^ (in Slovak) SaS nepresadila zákon o životných partnerstvách, ktoré by mohli uzatvárať aj páry rovnakého pohlavia.
  17. ^ KDH chce v Ústave definovať manželstvo ako zväzok muža a ženy
  18. ^ Podľa Maďariča je správne, aby spoločnosť podporovala tradičnú rodinu
  19. ^ Návrh skupiny poslancov NR SR na vydanie ústavného zákona, ktorým sa mení a doĺňa zákon č. 460/1992 Zb. Ústava Slovenskej republiky v znení neskorších predpisov
  20. ^ Slovakia mulls constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
  21. ^ Hlasovanie podľa klubov
  22. ^ Hrušovský: Ak Ústava prejde, gayovia nedostanú práva ako manželstvo
  23. ^ Activists protest constitutional amendment on marriage
  24. ^ Poslanci zmenili Ústavu, manželstvo dostalo ochranu
  25. ^ "Ústavný zákon č. 460/1992 Zb". Zákony pre ľudí (in Slovak).
  26. ^ "Slovakia's Constitution of 1992 with Amendments through 2014" (PDF). Constitute Project. 27 July 2018.
  27. ^ Aliancia za rodinu: Manželstvo má byť ideál
  28. ^ Aktivistom sa veta o manželstve máli Zbierajú podpisy za referendum
  29. ^ Aliancia za rodinu organizuje petíciu na referendum Chce zastaviť devalváciu tradičného manželstva
  30. ^ Traditional family advocates criticise Ikea
  31. ^ Anti-gay referendum petitions has signatures
  32. ^ Constitutional Court to review referendum on family
  33. ^ Cez ustavny sud presli tri otazky referenda o rodine
  34. ^ Slovak conservatives fail to cement gay marriage ban in referendum The Guardian, 8 February 2015
  35. ^ Same-sex married couples have the right to stay in Slovakia, The Slovak Spectator, 5 June 2018
  36. ^ Landmark EU marriage ruling hailed as big win for gay rights, Thomson Reuters Foundation News, 5 June 2018
  37. ^ East European church leaders fret about same-sex marriage ruling, Crux: Covering all things Catholic, 9 June 2018
  38. ^ (in Slovak) Je spoločnosť na RP pripravená
  39. ^ Public opinion 2012 Iniciatíva Inakosť, 2012
  40. ^ Alternatívu k manželstvu podporuje väčšina spoločnosti Poll by the Focus, 2015
  41. ^ DISCRIMINATION IN THE EU IN 2015, p. 50
  42. ^ Slováci sú naďalej jasne proti registrovaným partnerstvám Poll by the Focus, 2016
  43. ^ a b Eastern and Western Europeans Differ on Importance of Religion, Views of Minorities, and Key Social Issues, Pew Research Center, 2017
  44. ^ DISCRIMINATION IN THE EU IN 2015