Czech Republic: Bill legalizing gay marriage to be debated this week

The Czech Republic currently offers civil partnerships for same-sex couples. However, advocates of gay marriage say the current system still leaves them at a disadvantage. Apart from the symbolic difference of being called “registered partners” rather than “spouses”, gay marriage advocates also say there are practical deficiencies. These include the inability to claim widow pensions, or to collectively adopt a child.

Yet gay couples are now hoping things could change. An amendment to the Czech Civil Code, which allows same-sex marriage, is set to have its first reading in Parliament this week. Radek Konečný from the Jsme fér movement, which advocates gay marriage, says the initiative has strong backing among the LGBT community.

“I consider it an important measure that would help members of the community live better lives in this country. The Czech Republic has a unique opportunity to become the first post-communist country to legalise gay marriage and place itself among the modern part of the world.”

Supporters of the bill can also rely on backing from the majority of the population, says sociologist Daniel Prokop from the MEDIAN research agency, who analysed polling results from three separate agencies.

“Since 2015 the majority of Czechs support gay marriage and you cannot find any reliable survey that would show otherwise. If you combine the three recent surveys from 2015, you can see that more or less 60 percent of Czechs support gay marriage and 35 percent are against.”

Even so, the bill’s chances of winning approval are far from certain. While support for it has come from across the political spectrum, including MPs from the largest ANO party, as well as some opposition parties, opinions within the parties themselves seem split and MPs are unlikely to vote unilaterally. A counter-bill, which seeks to coin the term ‘marriage’ as an exclusive union between man and woman is also set to be discussed. Read more via Czech Radio