Latvian parliament allows same-sex partnerships

Riga Pride @RigaPride

Latvia’s parliament has voted to recognise same-sex couples through civil unions legally. The new legislation, which will take effect in the middle of next year, permits same-sex partners to register their partnership with a notary. This allows them to avail of hospital visiting rights and certain tax and social security benefits. However, it is important to note that same-sex couples will still face some restrictions, such as being unable to adopt children and dealing with inheritance issues.

Despite the increasing acceptance of homosexuality worldwide, it remains a controversial topic in Latvia. In 2005, legislators in the country amended the Constitution to explicitly state that marriage is only allowed between a man and a woman. Recent surveys have shown that a majority of Latvians (54%) feel uncomfortable working with a colleague who is homosexual or bisexual. Additionally, a 2023 Globsec poll revealed that only 40% of the country’s population supports legalising same-sex rights, including marriage.

The top court in Latvia ruled in 2020 that non-married families must be recognised. As a result, 46 same-sex couples successfully petitioned the courts to be recognised as family units, according to public broadcaster LSM.

President Edgars Rinkevics was elected by Latvia’s parliament (Saeima) in May as the first openly gay head of state in the European Union, despite 45% of Latvians saying that they would be uncomfortable with having a homosexual or bisexual high-level official, according to a 2019 Eurobarometer poll.

“The Saeima has taken an important and supportable step by sorting out this issue,” told the President of the State to LTV Panorāma. 

President Rinkēvičs also informed that his office had received a request from 34 members of the Saeima to suspend the publication of the relevant amendments for two months. This will allow them to initiate a referendum, which will be done following the Constitution. 

“Members of the Saeima have the right to use their constitutional rights,” said the President. “Now the public, the citizens of Latvia, will have two months to either support this idea or not. In my opinion, Saeima’s decision was supportable and correct. But I believe that if, according to the Constitution, a third of the deputies want to initiate a referendum, then constitutionally, it is now in the hands of the voters whether to do it or not. In this process, we would invite a mutually respectful discussion”. 

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