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Latvia legalises gay civil unions in ‘important step’ forward

Gay marriage
Gay civil unions in Latvia are legal (Image: Pexels)

On Thursday (9 November) the Parliament in Latvia voted to legalise civil unions for gay couples. It means, for the first time, that gay couples have been given legal recognition.

However, their rights still fall short of those of other married couples.

Same-sex couples will, when the law takes effect mid-2024, be able to register their union, visit each other in hospital, and access tax and social security benefits.

“This is a good day,” wrote Latvian Prime Minister Evika Siliņa on X on Thursday. Recognising it as an “important step in creating a modern and humane Latvia,” Siliņa celebrated that the state has “given a clear signal that all families are important.”

However, gay couples in Latvia won’t be able to adopt children and will continue to face issues with inheritance. As per Politico, opposition politicians have pledged to oppose the legalisation of gay civil unions.

The gay rights activist Kaspars Zalitis told Reuters, “This is a great beginning.”

Edgars Rinkēvičs, the first openly gay President in Latvia, was elected in May and sworn in in July. He’s also the EU’s first openly gay head of state.

Homosexuality is legal in Latvia but public opinion on it is divided. As per ILGA Europe, a 2022 survey found that 49% had a neutral stance. 25% were accepting and 23% condemned homosexuality.

As per Equaldex, a 2023 survey found that 51% of people supported the belief that LGBTI+ is “an immoral and decadent ideology.”

Latvia’s Parliament changed the country’s constitution in 2005 to define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, same-sex couples have been fighting to be recognised as families and the country’s highest court ruled in 2020 that unmarried couples should be protected by the state.

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