Even though it was eagerly awaited, Wednesday’s meeting of the constitutional and legal committee of the Chamber of Deputies ultimately did not bring about a shift in the field of marriage for everyone. The members of the committees got stuck on several details of the proposal and postponed the discussion of the amendment to the Civil Code until the next meeting. A number of interesting opinions were expressed at the meeting, some of which are presented below.
A total of three proposals were to be discussed at the meeting. The first seeks to ensure that same-sex couples can enter into marriages with equal rights. The other, on the other hand, strives for the constitutional anchoring of marriage only as a union between a man and a woman. Recently, however, a third, compromise amendment was born – equal rights and partnership in addition to marriage.
“We want to straighten out the rights of homosexual couples with one exception, and that is the name of marriage,” said one of the proponents of the amendment, Josef Bernard (STAN). Then another amendment came into play, which would exempt the adoption of children from the rights. This was presented by ANO deputy Helena Válková, who justified it by the rights of pensioners. “I also represent those I am closest to, i.e. the elderly. They complain that their voice is not heard,” she said at the committee. According to her, a partnership without the possibility of adoption is the ideal solution.
Marek Benda (ODS), a traditional opponent of marriage for all, argued that there is no right to a child and that there is a child’s right to know his real parents. “I consider the proceedings of the constitutional and legal committee to be unnecessary, because everything will be decided at the plenary session of the lower house anyway,” he also said.
Marriage doesn’t call me sir
TOP 09 MP Ondřej Kolář was also interested, who argued that same-sex marriage cannot be a problem for anyone. “The institution of marriage is not something that calls me sir,” he said, adding that one does not need a husband or a wife to have a child. “For me, it’s an institution that means nothing at all,” he added.
The chairman of the Pirátů club, Jakub Michálek, on the other hand, stated that he would rather enter into a registered partnership with his partner, because it has certain advantages and security, while in marriage he is bothered by changing spouses together. Because of this, people should not have to pay for prenuptial agreements and, according to him, everyone should be able to become partners. “We are deliberately setting the conditions so that a person has different rights and responsibilities based on their gender,” he said.
The debate was also about the adoption of children by same-sex couples. “The child is the only one in the trio who lives in uncertainty,” said ANO MP Taťána Malá. In connection with this, the discussion also turned to surrogate motherhood, which, according to Martina Ochodnická (TOP 09), the working group deals with. According to her, there is no one in the group who supports surrogacy. According to the deputy, some members are leaning towards a complete ban, but if the group agrees, according to her, it will be a very strict legal regulation. According to Ochodnická, the proposal is to be completed in May of next year, and therefore cannot be linked to the current amendment to the Civil Code.
You don’t have the balls to do it
Some committee members were critical of the fact that the committee received both amendments only a short time before the meeting. The rapporteur Aleš Dufek (KDU-ČSL) therefore suggested interrupting the debate so that, in his opinion, the committee could make a high-quality decision with a cool head. Dufek is said to have felt “under pressure”.
ANO Member of Parliament Zuzana Ožanová mentioned the “double standard of Patrik Nacher” in connection with this, because according to her, other publications had to be submitted ahead of time, but this did not happen here. “It’s just that they’re supposed to be served in a timely manner and it wasn’t here in this case. (…) It is standard to have time for it,” she declared. “Project it to yourself, that you would pressure your colleagues to make a decision in a matter of hours,” agreed ODS deputy Karel Haas.
In the end, the majority of the members present voted for the suspension, which, for example, MP Malá did not like. “Have the guts, excuse the expression, the balls to fully say that you don’t want this to be discussed in this election period,” she snapped at Dufka. The constitutional-legal committee should act again in about a month.
According to the original amendment to the Civil Code, people of the same sex would have the same rights in marriage as a woman and a man have now. These include, for example, the creation of joint property, the right to a widow’s and widower’s pension, the rights and obligations of the children they raise, and access to substitute family care. Registered partnerships, which homosexuals and lesbians can enter into now, would practically disappear as an institution.
Committee members also adjourned consideration of a pair of other bills that deal with same-sex marriage or partnerships. It is a parliamentary amendment that would enshrine the constitutional protection of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and a popular amendment to the Act on Registered Partnerships and other laws. It would introduce a partnership in which homosexual couples would enjoy virtually the same property and social rights as married couples, but without parental rights. The legal committee placed this draft on the agenda, although the Chamber has not yet discussed it in the initial round.