Natisni vsebino

Referendum outcome means no redefinition of marriage for one year

21.12.2015 15:19
Category: work and news


The outcome of Sunday's referendum, if officially confirmed, will mean that the legislature will not be able to redefine marriage to expand rights to same-sex couples for at least a year.

Slovenian law prohibit adoption of legislation which runs contrary to the wishes of the people as expressed in a referendum for a period of 12 months after the popular vote.

The ban is loosely defined and permits various interpretations, but in the case of Sunday's referendum it is understood to mean that redefinition of marriage to include gay couples will not be possible in this period.

Even if attempts are made in another law to secure equal rights for same-sex couples, the ban effectively means that "legislation which would interfere with the vote cannot be adopted for the next year", head of the government legal service Ksenija Mihovar Globokar said.

With the redefinition of marriage impacting on as many as 70 laws indirectly, there is wiggle room for legislating certain rights for same-sex couples in other laws in this period.

But this would fall short of gay marriage and full equality for which gay groups have fought for and which the proponents of the defeated law had wanted to secure.

Slovenia has already enacted civil unions for same-sex couples, but this does not provide for many of the rights afforded to married couples, including on inheritance and visitation rights.

The outcome has been received with announcements of fresh attempts to legislate the issue, including from the no camp, whose representatives indicated that expanding rights associated with civil unions would be the goal.

Some parties who had been part of the pro camp also announced a new attempt to legislate marriage equality, but did not specify how they would try to achieve that.

A few legal experts have questioned the legislative provision banning the adoption of laws running contrary to the will of the people expressed in referenda for a year.

Such a ban had been removed from the Constitution as part of amendments adopted in 2013 and critics say a similar provision contained in referendum legislation may no longer be Constitutional as a result.

The legal quandary regarding rights of same-sex couples may not stop there, given that the Constitutional Court has found provisions of current legislation dealing with the rights of gay couples unconstitutional and demanded fixes.

But Slovenia's highest court has never explicitly demanded full marriage equality in its rulings, which makes it unclear where it draws the line.

An answer to that question may be provided if the issue of gay marriage is brought before the court by proponents of such legislation.

Ombudsman Vlasta Nussdorfer had said she would consider sending all 70 or so laws affected by the legislation to the Constitutional Court for review if the changes to the marriage and family relations act was rejected in the referendum.

This possibility will be reviewed with NGOs dealing with the issue of gay rights, her office said in a statement on Monday.


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