The Czech parliament on Friday gave gays a boost by agreeing to discuss a draft law to grant certain legal rights to same-sex partners, officials said. Having turned down similar legislation proposed for debate several times in the past, deputies voted 72-49 to allow the draft to go into a second reading. Out of 139 deputies present in the 200-member lower chamber, 18 abstained.
If enacted, the legislation would allow couples who register their union with authorities to enjoy rights in areas such as inheritance and health care that are similar to those granted now to straight married couples. The draft does not allow marriage or adoption of children by same-sex partners.
"The draft is a compromise," said Jiri Hromada, a leading gay activist. "It grants basic rights. In that sense we're satisfied." Hromada said he planned to participate in the debate on the draft in a parliamentary committee, scheduled to begin in September. The final vote could come by the end of October, he said. A number of other European countries already have recognized same-sex unions.