Latvia considers banning gay marriage

A constitutional amendment that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman has received preliminary support in Latvia’s parliament, the Saeima.

On a 55-1 vote, with 12 abstentions, the Saeima on Sept. 15 referred the amendment to its justice and other commissions, the LETA news service reported.

The amendment would modify paragraph 110 of the Latvian constitution—which calls on the state to guarantee the rights of marriage, family, parents and children—by clearly defining that marriage means a union between a man and a woman. That would effectively outlaw same-sex marriage.

The proposed amendment from the First Party of Latvia (Latvijas Pirmā partija) comes less than two months after the capital city of Rīga saw its first-ever gay “pride” parade, an event during which marchers were heavily outnumbered by those protesting against them. The proposed amendment should not be seen as restricting the rights of sexual minorities nor preventing same-sex couples from cohabitating, party spokesman Juris Kokins said in a press release. Instead, it is meant to protect the traditional family.

During the parliament’s initial debate on the amendment, Kārlis Šadurskis of the New Era party (Jaunais laiks) said he supported the goal of the proposal, but added that he is categorically opposed to amending the constitution to accomplish it.

Under Latvian law, parliament has the right to amend the constitution. At least two-thirds of the 100 members of the parliament must be present during voting on constitutional amendments, and at least two-thirds of those present must vote in favor of the amendment. Amendments receive three readings.

Canada this year became the third nation, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to legalize same-sex marriage.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

15 thoughts on “Latvia considers banning gay marriage

  1. Same-sex marriage is also legalised in Spain.
    What happening in Latvia is just a populist attempt by the First Party before the parliamentary elections in 2006. Same-sex marriage is already banned in Latvia – article 35 of the Civil Law (amended in 1991) explicitly prohibits two people of the samesex to marry.

    Lesbian and gay community in Latvia does not advocate same-sex marriage, but rather partnership rights.

    Its just sad that the so-called politicians from the First Party use homophobia for the sake of their pre-electional campaign.

  2. I’m not from your country and I don’t know anything about your laws, but my best friend got married in Latvia with another female in August and people flipped out about it. I don’t know what being legally married entitles a couple to, but I don’t see how making this law is going to change anything. It’s not like getting married to the same sex in your country was really legal in the first place, so what’s the difference now?

  3. I guess its hard for me to understand, having grown-up in Montréal, a rather open-minded city in general, what is the big deal against gay-unions.
    Can someone please explain how does gay-union poses such a threat against “the traditional family”, whatever it is to begin with. If its religious marriage we are talking about, the last time I checked, none of my gay friends ever openly considered that. Actually, I never heard of any gays claiming religious union. I am afraid that I might offense some by mentionning that, I I don’t mean to be rude or offensive, but I just fail not to find the evocation of such threat a pure and simple waste of oxygen.

    But really, what I find saddening, despite of any revendications, is that the gay pride was reportedly outnumbered by protesters. Its not a closet thing, please, move on the 21th century.

  4. Dear Dean… erm… yeh.. we know that non-gays have rights. But what do you mean? Are you implying you should have the right to ban gay people from your business?

  5. I am from the west and I now live in Latvia because it has many advantages over more advanced countries with regulations and laws dictating everything. These imposed regulations are good and bad.
    I am all for changing the Constitution because it is the only way Latvia can ensure today’s laws will be around tomorrow.

    As for the gay aspect – I see it like my business. People argue that I should allow smoking in my business. I say – What for? People can smoke just about anywhere. Why not have a refuge for people that don’t want to have a changed environment imposed upon them? Non-Gays have rights as well.

  6. Hi Bob. I was not refering to my business and gays. But for your information I was very happy to give a good friend whom is gay a job and I may still do this if the familiy member I gave the job to departs.

    The point here is Gays wanting to influence a tradition of marriage that has its own culture and position in society as a result of 100’s of years. People have become married because it represents something special to them. Why do not gays start their own tradition? It is simply a matter of competition causing innovation. Why do not gays innovate and create their own method of formal union.

    I understand that there is an argument for all the legal rights that go with marriage. But my answer to this is that it will take time to have the union of gay people recognised just as it once took a long time to have have marriage recognised.

    People can be too selfish and they want what they want to happen in their lifetime. Where have all the forward thinking selfless people gone to that can think in terms of a longer term more harmonious and sustainable solutions. If it takes 200 years then it takes 200 years.

    I have a business because I worked hard to develop it. Sure people get gelous because I earn good money and some people would like to take it from me. What right do they have to take my business?

  7. Dear Dean. What about co-existence and mutual respect, knowing you can meet a person you’ll love for life and stay together until death do us apart? Do some people need 200 years to understand that? Some of us don’t.

  8. I love tolerance and respect for minorities. I think than intolerance only comes from ignorance and/or insensibility towards others more than simple evil. In this case, I have a deeply interest to know Vaira Vike-Freiberga’s opinions specially because she is a Psychologist (and also President of Latvia) I don’t understand why a leader as she preferred to be silent regarding this natural issue for her position. knowledge and moral authority. It would be a very important opportunity to promote tolerance in Latvia. She deserves respect for both angles (as an expert and as a source of Latvian proud) for all of us with or without Latvian origins.

  9. Kia ora from New Zealand,
    interesting reading the comments on gay marriage. We same sex couples and defacto couples here in NZ have the option of a civil union which is separate from the traditions of marriage. This was introduced this year. Visit our country’s website for more interesting information and the progress we have made

    cheers Imants

  10. Here is the perfect opportunity for gay people to make improvements on the Wedded State. Why sign up to the tradition of Marriage when it has not been representative of gay people?

    Why not establish a more sustainable, and maybe even a more professional, Wedded State that has its own unique value to this world?

    It seems to me that people that argue to become part of traditional marriage are communicating that they do not want to do the hard work to establish their own Wedded State. It seems to me that a great opportunity for gay people and all people of the world that can benefit from what gay people have to offer is being overlooked because of minimalist thinking.

  11. There are a lot of emotive accusative words used to point the finger at people not wanting their tradition of marriage altered.

    I did a theasurus search on the word Marriage. It came up with a lot of good alternative names. I then purchased one of these names ending it with .com.

    Therefore, I am astounded that gays will spend more energy calling people names than to be active in creating their own special unique bond.

    The theasurus only listed about 20 alternatives of which only about 5 were useable. How many millions of gays are there on this planet wanting to create a better world?

  12. Dean:
    A great number of gays want to create a better world.
    BUT, the point is that we are not a discrete and seperate population or a different species. We are, shockingly enough, human beings the same as the rest of you, and just as much a product of our culture as the straight folks around us.

    We want our love recognised the same as everyone else’s. That is it. Your argument, to me, is tantamount to saying that if people of an ethnic minority (let us assume that this minority was impressed into slavery and dragged from their home and their own civilisation to another continint) want to have equal rights and institutions, they should just MAKE those institutions, in spite of crushing poverty and a distinct lack of manpower, and remain effectively entirely seperate from the mainstream (and ‘respectable’) society. We want our love recognised the same as our siblings and our parents, not to be treated as an entirely different creature. The United States learned, at least on paper, that “Seperate but equal, isn’t,” and that is what is at stake here.

    If gay people want to walk down the street and hold hands, why don’t they just form big gay colonies somewhere else where there is a huge vaccuum waiting for humanity to move in, rather than continuing to live and exist and try to live the lives they want in the communities they have lived in their entire lives? What jerks.

  13. Rainer I obvoiusly do not fully appreciate the value of having a relationship recognised via a piece of paper. The substance of the relationship seems more important than external recognition via paper. So I am somewhat amazed to see so much effort by gay people trying to knock down the door of an institution that has a lot of problems. Once you become part of the institution of marriage then the motivation to innovate is diminished.

    Is there anyone out there willing to work on a new website that will assist all people with relationship guidance through book lists and links? I have purchased the domain with the belief that it could provide a site where people can obtain information they seek about relationships between all types of people.

  14. 3 months later there is no person wanting to continue this debate or do something about it. LATVIA has successfully altered its constitution to not recognise marriage between people of the same sex. The EU continues to promote equal rights for all people but at the cost of traditional institutions. I did end up employing a gay friend that proved to be no more competent than hetro guys and had to be fired.

    I have now moved on with other projects and I leave the gay debate to those that can understand better than me why they should give their house away to the people that accuse them of being capitalists.

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