Slovenia has officially legalized marriage equality and adoption, making it the first country in Eastern Europe to do so.
The historic moment has come about after a 6-3 Constitutional Court decision in July said that same-sex marriage and adoption are constitutional rights. The court ordered parliament to add an amendment within six months.
On October 4, parliament passed the amendment legalizing both marriage and adoption. Forty-eight members voted in favor of the amendment and 29 against it. One member abstained.
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“With these changes, we are recognizing the rights of same-sex couples that they should have had for a long time,” said State Secretary Simon Maljevac.
The moment is especially significant due to the sharp contrast between Slovenia’s progress and the situation for LGBTQ people in some nearby nations.
In Poland, for example, homosexuality is legal, but LGBTQ people face intense discrimination. It is often ranked the most homophobic country in the EU. The nation is known for its notorious “LGBT-free zones,” areas of the country that say they are free from “LGBTQ ideology.”
Hungary allows civil partnerships between same-sex couples, as does Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Montenegro.
Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia, which banned male homosexuality in 1959. During the 1970s, the power to define a criminal code was given to the member states of Yugoslavia, and Slovenia decriminalized homosexuality in 1977.
The country allowed domestic partnerships starting in 2006, and the Constitutional Court ruled in 2009 that they violated Slovenia’s constitutional ban on discrimination. The National Assembly tried to pass a bill legalizing marriage equality, but opponents of the bill petitioned for a national referendum on marriage.
In 2015, a referendum on marriage equality took place and 63.5% of Slovenians voted against it.