Czech Republic May Be First Former Eastern Bloc Country To Legalise Same Sex Marriage

If the bill passes, the country could make history by introducing marriage equality.

Image of two men wearing pride flags overlooking Prague in the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic may become the first former Eastern Bloc country to legalise same-sex marriage. The country, which used to be part of Czechoslovakia, has recognised civil partnerships for registered same-sex couples since 2006, but a civil code prevents full marriage equality. 

This week, the Czech government will discuss possible amendments to the country’s civil code which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. A bill, which would give same-sex couples the right to marry, will be discussed this week at the lower house of the country’s parliament. The bill was drafted by 46 lawmakers from all political backgrounds, and the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has added his support.

A poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre between 2015-2017 found that 65% of people in the Czech Republic support marriage equality. Additionally, support for same-sex marriage legislation is widespread among the country’s political parties and the Czech people generally.

Civil partnerships in the Czech Republic offer same-sex couples a number of rights including inheritance, hospital and prison visitation rights, spousal privilege and alimony rights, but they do not allow for joint adoption, widow’s pension or joint property rights.

A spokesperson from We Are Fair, the Czech Republic’s national campaign to legalise same-sex marriage spoke about the discrepancy between civil partnership and marriage:

“Despite the fact that the Czech Republic has recognised partnership since 2006, full equality for same-sex couples is still missing. This gap in legislation not only affects the couples but their families and relatives as well.”

If the bill is passed, the Czech Republic would make history as the only formerly communist region – with the exception of the area formerly recognised as East Germany – to introduce marriage equality. Compared to the country’s neighbours – Poland and Slovakia – the separation of church and state is distinct, and as a result, the country is generally progressive in terms of LGBT+ rights.

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