The lower chamber
of the Czech parliament voted in support of a draft law
granting some legal rights to same-sex partners. Eighty-six
of the 147 deputies present voted in favor of the
draft, 54 were against, and seven abstained from the vote.
Most of the deputies for the Social Democrats
and Communists voted in favor of the draft, while
Christian Democrats and deputies of the center-right
Civic Democratic Party opposed it. The draft still needs
approval by the senate and the president to become valid.
"This is a great encouragement, but we remain
realistic ahead of the senate vote," said Jiri
Hromada, a leading Czech gay activist.
The 81-seat senate is dominated by the
conservative Civic Democratic Party, which opposed the
legislation in the lower house. It was not immediately
clear when the senate vote would take place. The vote seems
to indicate a change of position by Czech lawmakers. The
parliament turned down similar proposals five times in
the past. The last proposal was rejected by a
majority of just one vote in February.
If enacted, the legislation would allow couples
who register their partnership with authorities to
have rights to inheritance and health care similar to
those granted now to heterosexual married couples. The
draft does not allow marriage or adoption of children by
same-sex partners. "Our ideas [about same-sex
partnerships] are much wider than the draft, but this
is an acceptable compromise," Hromada said. (AP)