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The central European nation of Slovenia witnessed its first same-sex civil partnership on Tuesday when Mitja Blazic and Viki Kern registered their union in the capital, Ljubljana. The current law, passed in July, allows gay men and lesbians the right to register their unions and covers property issues along with inheritance rights. The law does not, however, grant any other rights associated with marriage, including social security or adoption rights. It also excludes guests from being present at the signing of the documents.
"It looked more like a car registration, not a wedding ceremony," Blazic told the Associated Press, adding that the entire process was "humiliating" and tantamount to "discrimination" because opposite-sex couples are permitted to have guests and openly celebrate their unions. The couple plans to enter a discrimination complaint with the Constitutional Court, delaying their honeymoon until they prevail. An earlier, more comprehensive version of the civil partnership law was shot down after a second reading in the parliament in 2005.
The bitter divide over questions of same-sex marriage and more general LGBT rights has been a crucial political point for admitting the former Soviet republics to the European Union. Antigay demonstrations and attacks in Poland, Estonia, and Latvia suggest that the traditionally conservative cultures of these countries are not always aligned with the rapid democratization and social liberalization that their governments have executed in order to gain admission.
Despite these cultural obstacles, LGBT groups are hopeful that Slovenia will join their western European neighbors like Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands in granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples. (The Advocate)