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Czech president
rejects groundbreaking partnership bill

Czech president
rejects groundbreaking partnership bill

Despite being passed by a majority of lawmakers, Czech president Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a measure to recognize gay couples.

Czech Republic president Vaclav Klaus announced Thursday that he was exercising his right of veto to kill a proposal that would have made his country the first in post-communist Eastern Europe to legally recognize same-sex couples, Radio Prague reports. The legislation--apparently with the backing of public opinion--had been approved by the upper and lower houses of parliament and was waiting for the president's signature.

Klaus said he remained firmly opposed to the idea of registered partnerships for gay couples. But he said his decision to veto the legislation stemmed partly from the fact that just 86 MPs had voted in favor of it, out of 147 present at the time. That logic has angered gay rights activists, including Tereza Kodickova, spokesperson of the Gay and Lesbian League. "[The bill was approved with a majority of at least] 10 votes, if I remember correctly," she told Radio Prague. "Which is a fair majority. Plus, if this is what the constitution says, what is necessary for a bill to be passed, so it did--so what argument is that? Third, there are bills that he has signed previously which passed by one vote. So why would it be insufficient in this case?"

Under the proposed law, same-sex couples would have the right to officially register--and terminate--their relationship. Gay couples would also have access to information on the health of their partner. And they would have been able to raise, but not adopt, children.

The bill now goes back to parliament, where the governing Social Democrats must come up with 101 votes to override the president's veto. The outcome of that vote is unclear. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has pledged to muster the support of all 70 Social Democrat MPs, but several have indicated they'll vote against the measure. (

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