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Latvia introduces civil partnerships. “We will finally be noticed in the eyes of the government”

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Poland is among the increasingly narrow group of countries that do not formally recognize same-sex unions. Latvia has allowed civil partnerships since July 1. The first couple to take this step says briefly: “we have been together for years, so it is mainly practical for us.”

They have not been single for a long time, they are not bachelors. They have been in a relationship for over 5 years and want to be together for the rest of their lives as a couple. Now, finally, the state is formally taking notice of this. – I am happy that we can finally do this and that we will finally be noticed in the eyes of the government – says Janis Locs.

This moment is bittersweet for them, because equality is not yet on the table. However, it is a step in the right direction. There will be time for gold wedding rings. – We decided on silver rings, because it is a partnership. It is not yet a marriage. We hope that in the future we will be able to enter into a real marriage – says Maksims Ringo.

Latvia has so far allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. The law was passed in November last year and came into effect on July 1. The agreements are concluded before a notary and give couples only a few basic rights.

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– From the moment the union is registered with a notary, these people are entitled to social benefits, receive tax relief, and are allowed to visit each other in the hospital – enumerates Inese Libina-Egnere, Latvian Minister of Justice.

They want to fight for more rights

There is still something to fight for, something to postulate. – The key issues that are still missing are, first of all, inheritance. This is a difficult issue to solve because it requires major legislative changes. There are also no solutions for recognizing same-sex couples registered abroad. And of course, there are no solutions for children living in same-sex families – indicates Kaspars Zalitis from the Organization for LGBT+ Equality Dzivesbiedri.

However, regulations facilitating couples' life together – even in such a limited form – were urgently needed. – If something happens to one of us, the other will be able to decide about his treatment in hospital. Of course, there are also financial aspects. We will be able to settle accounts together and in this context Latvia sees us as a family – says Maksims Ringo.

Latvia has joined the ranks of six other European Union countries that have introduced the institution of civil partnerships into law on various principles. Here, politicians were forced to do so by a Supreme Court decision from four years ago.

– This is the fulfillment of the Supreme Court's ruling, which stated that real regulations are needed for all families. We therefore recognize that there are families that are not married and can register their union in other ways – explains the Latvian Minister of Justice.

When will the draft law on civil partnerships be submitted to the Sejm? Kotula respondsTVN24

What about civil partnerships in Poland?

For the remaining 15 EU countries, marriage is simply a union between two adults who want to be together, and there is no distinction based on gender. Only five countries do not yet have any solutions: Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Poland.

– We are in this shameful group of countries that ignore their own citizens – says Hubert Sobecki from the Love Does Not Exclude Association.

It should come as no surprise that the frustration of those waiting is growing. Last week, the Minister for Equality, Katarzyna Kotula, announced that there would be a government bill on civil partnerships in Poland – without the possibility of adopting children. The remaining solutions are not yet known, but it is known that PSL is still opposed to some of the proposed ones. – There is no majority for the ceremony. PSL proposed that it should be done by a notary at all, we do not agree to that, that is, we want it to be the Civil Registry Office – says Katarzyna Kotula.

SEE ALSO: Civil partnerships are a promise of KO and the Left. The People's Party could support them, but the bone of contention is children

Some conservative politicians also do not want to agree to the possibility of partners adopting a common surname. – As a social side, we look with great concern, first of all, at the fact that from a project that was already a compromise (…), that something is still not to someone's liking, something is still being cut. Whether this will change and whether something can be achieved, really depends on the PSL – says Hubert Sobecki. Activists working for equality of LGBT+ people in Poland are announcing demonstrations if the government does not present specifics soon.

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main image source: Reuters

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