In a first for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the Czech government has become the first former socialist block government to support a bill allowing same-sex marriages.
The bill is the next step from the 2006 law allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into registered partnerships.
Homosexual couples will obtain the same rights regarding inheritance, maintenance obligation and family issues as married couples.
In total 46 lawmakers from different parties drafted the marriage bill, arguing that homosexual couples deserved the option of full marital status. The PMs were from six parties including governing populist Ano; liberal-protest Pirates; Social Democrats; right-wing, liberal and pro-European TOP 09; centrists STAN and, surprisingly, the Communists.
Right-wing, conservative Civic Democrats; Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and Neo-Nazi Freedom and Direct Democracy were not included.
A different group across the floor of 37 lawmakers, calls for a definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman to be enshrined in the constitution.
The main opposition is coming from the conservative KDU-CSL. “I rather hold the view that marriage is some kind of basic value, which shouldn’t succumb to volatility,” said the main opponent to the bill, Marek Vyborny (KDU-CSL) in comments cited by Czech online news iDNES.cz.
The bill allowing same-sex marriages needs only a simple majority in the 200-seat house to pass, while a constitutional change requires 120 votes.
The only post-communist region to have adopted same-sex marriage legislation is the former East Germany, which was subsumed into west Germany and inherited its laws.Czechia has the advantage that religion has been side-lined, so the opposition to the legislation is not strong.
According to a poll conducted by Median agency, 75% of respondents agree with a statement that if two people love each other, they should be able to marry regardless of sexual orientation.
LGBTQ community is tolerated but is not fully accepted by society. The legacy of communism is significant and the position of LGBTQ+ people in society is behind the norms of Western Europe. In a recent poll, 35% of respondents agreed that ‘homosexuality is not natural’ and 32% agreed that ‘homosexuality is the question of fashion’.
But Czechia is still the most liberal of the other CEE countries. A poll by Pew Research found in June 2017 that 21% of Czechs see homosexuality as morally wrong, whereas in Poland, this number was 48%, and in Hungary 53%.