Latvia may become the next Eastern European state to formally recognize the relationships of unmarried couples in a proposal that would see gay and lesbian couples recognized for the first time in the country’s history
Currently gays and lesbians are protected from discrimination in the workplace in Latvia and homosexuality has been legal since it regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1992.
But same-sex couples have no way of formalizing their relationships in Latvia or securing their rights and responsibilities to each other – and adoption by them is illegal.
Under Unity Party MP Veiko Spolitis’ proposal, couples entering into civil partnerships would have to be over 18, compared to 16 for married couples, and would be banned from solemnizing their relationships in religious places of worship.
According to Latvian news agency Diena.lv, Spolitis announced on Thursday that he had submitted his bill to the Latvian Parliament’s Legal Committee in the hope that it can be voted on in the Parliament before the end of the year.
However opponents are saying that if the bill is passed it will be the first step towards same-sex couples adopting and marrying in Latvia – though there is nothing about adoption in the proposal.
Spolitis’ Unity Party is in a governing coalition with several other parties in the Parliament and Unity’s leader Laimdota Straujuma is Latvia’s current Prime Minister.