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[16.03.2006] - Current Affairs - Dita Asiedu, Chris Jarrett
Same-sex registered partnerships to be introduced after deputies override presidential veto
The Czech Republic has become the only country in Central Europe where gays and lesbians will be allowed to enter into registered partnerships. The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday narrowly overturned an earlier veto by President Vaclav Klaus. Dita Asiedu was there:
Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 21:46 GMT
Czech MPs approve gay rights law - BBC
The Czech Republic has become the first former communist country in Europe to grant legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.
The vote was passed in parliament by the absolute minimum needed to overturn a veto by President Vaclav Klaus.
He had argued the legislation amounted to excessive regulation by the state of people's private lives.
The law will give gay couples rights to inherit a partner's property and raise children, but does not allow adoption.
The BBC's Rob Cameron in Prague says Czech society is one of the most secular and sexually liberal in Europe.
Homosexual campaigners appear to have the Czech public on their side, he adds.
'Defeat for family'
Although the lower house of parliament approved the legislation in December and the Senate in January, an absolute majority was required to override the presidential veto imposed in February.
The proposal had strong backing from Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who said it was key issue ahead of general elections in June.
In a statement released after the vote, Mr Klaus said the result was not a personal defeat but rather "a defeat for all of us who believe that the family in our society is fundamental, unique, unrivalled".
Martin Strachon, a spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian League, told AFP news agency the vote meant gays and lesbians were now recognised as "normal members of society".
"The law is a compromise," said leading gay rights activist Jiri Hromada, quoted by Associated Press. "It will harm no-one and will make many happy."
Parliament has turned down similar proposals four times in the past.
Czech parliament approves gay partnerships
Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:21 PM EST
PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech lower house of parliament voted on Wednesday to override a presidential veto and approve a law allowing same-sex partnerships.
The law allowing same-sex couples to officially register, and terminate, their relationships was originally approved by the lower house. But in mid-February right-wing President Vaclav Klaus vetoed the bill saying it increased state regulation and copied a set-up justifiable only for traditional families.
An absolute majority of 101 in the 200-seat lower house was needed to override the veto and approve the law. The government got exactly that, with 101 of the 177 deputies present approving the law.
The law had strong backing from Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, but junior government coalition party the Christian Democrats opposed the measure.
The rightist opposition Civic Democrats voted against it saying Paroubek pushed the law through as an election gimmick.
Czechs head to the polls in a general election on June 2-3.
The law also allows access to information on the health of a gay partner. It allows same-sex couples to raise children, but it does not permit adoptions.
Czechs are mostly non-religious and surveys show most support same-sex couples having the option of registering their partnerships.
Czech Parliament Overrides Veto, Passes Gay Partner Law
by Malcolm Thornberry, 365Gay.com European Bureau Chief
March 15, 2006 - 3:00 pm ET
(Prague) The Czech Parliament on Wednesday overrode a presidential veto and passed a law that recognizes same-sex domestic partnerships.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek got 101 of the 177 votes that were cast in the 200 seat parliament - the exact number needed to override President Vaclav Klaus' veto of the bill.
The law will allow couples who register their partnership with authorities to have inheritance and health care rights similar to those granted now to heterosexual married couples. The law, however, does not allow marriage or adoption of children by same-sex partners.
The legislation passed the lower house in December and the upper house in January. Klaus vetoed the legislation last month.
Following Klaus' veto of the measure gays and lesbians marched through the streets of Prague to the presidential palace to protest.
Paroubek called the veto one of Klaus' biggest errors as President.
The issue of same-sex partner rights is expected to play a major part in the June election setting up a battle between Paroubek's Social Democrats and Klaus' Civic Democrats.
Recent public opinion polls show most Czechs support same-sex couples having the option of registering their partnerships.