December 16, 2005

Czech MPs approve law on same-sex partnerships

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The lower house of the Czech parliament
approved a law legalizing civil partnerships for same-sex
couples on Friday, in spite of strong opposition inside Prime
Minister Jiri Paroubek's coalition government.

The Christian Democrats, the second largest group in the
three-party government, refused to support the legislation
saying it damaged the traditional perception of the family.

However, many Communist Party deputies sided with
Paroubek's left-wing Social Democrats, the main government
party, to approve the bill, which could face a rough ride in
the opposition-dominated Senate.

According to a lower house press official, 86 of the 147
deputies present voted in favor of the law while 54 were
against and the rest abstained. Fifty-three others were not
present during the vote.

Paroubek, attending an EU summit, was not present, although
he supported the law.

The new rules allow same-sex couples to officially register
-- and terminate -- their relationship. It also allows access
to information on the health of a gay partner.

If the Senate rejects the legislation, the lower house can
override it with an absolute majority of 101 in the 200-seat
lower house.