Activists describe it as a step in the right direction for the rights of LGBTQI people in the country
BY HARRIET ARGENT
The Czech Republic has voted today to pass the bill on marriage equality in the first reading by 41 votes to 35. The bill will now progress onto a second reading by Parliament where it will be debated further.
If the bill passes its second reading, same-sex marriages will then be made legal in the Czech Republic.
The bill was first initiated over two years ago by MP Barbora Koranova and has been supported by 50 lawmakers from across the political spectrum, but it has never been debated in parliament before now because of obstructions caused by opposition parties.
Krystof Stupka, a Czech LGBTQI activist and trainee in the European Parliament, has been a vocal advocate for this bill and told DIVA it was a momentous day for the country.
“It’s been over 1,000 days since the bill was first introduced, so it was really instrumental to have it finally debated.”
However, Krystof is concerned this is more of a symbolic moment than a solid step towards change because the bill will have to be passed before the country’s elections, which begin in the Autumn.
“There is a chance it will pass before the election, but it’s a slight chance,” he said. “Even if it doesn’t pass in its entirety, it still sends a message to the next Parliament that this has to be addressed immediately.”
Time for change
This has been a highly anticipated debate for Czech citizens, and according to the most recent survey of the population, around two-thirds were in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.
There is still a lot of pushback, however, from political parties such as the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, who have argued against the bill with attempts to introduce a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Even within the debate in Parliament today, there was a lot of homophobic language being used, which Krystof said was a shock to hear.
“I’ve always known it’s bad here, but I didn’t know it was possible for people to say these things, “ he said. “I just expected the debate to be a little more subtle.”
But Krystof said this decision was recognition from the government that LGBTQI people were not “second-grade citizens”, and it is a step in the right direction.
“We still have many problems in regards to the treatment of LGBTQI people,” he said. “But this is really the first step we had to make for societal change to start.”
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