On October 29, Thursday, the Latvian parliament, Saeima, voted down an initiative to validate same-sex partnerships proposed by the Dzīvesbiedri (Spouses) movement and the citizen initiative platform, ManaBalss.lv. The Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Commission of Saeima had earlier reviewed the collective submission for ‘Registration of Same-Sex Partners’ endorsed by 10,392 citizens. The commission recommended rejection of the initiative citing its contradiction with article 110 of the Latvian constitution, Satversme, which mandates the state to protect and support the union between a man and a woman.
According to reports, 55 members belonging to conservative sections in the 100-seat parliament voted against the initiative. Only thirty members, mainly from the liberal party Development/For!, voted in its favor. There was one abstention while other legislators were not present for the vote.
Following the rejection of the initiative by Saeima, Dzīvesbiedri movement stated, “laws are meant for people not the other way around, it is not clear why the country has been choosing not to hear, not to see and talk to such a large part of the society. The laws need to be changed according to social reality, not an idea of a “perfect” relationship model, but problems have to be solved.”
The movement also called for the intensification of its campaign towards collecting 20,000 signatures for another initiative started on October 1, which demands legal protection for all families, including those not bound by formal weddings. As of October 31, the initiative had been endorsed by 14,226 people.
The Dzīvesbiedri movement and other progressive sections had previously staged a protest in front of Saeima on October 8, when the Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Commission had called for rejecting the initiative to validate same sex partnerships.
In neighboring Estonia, a similar campaign for validating same sex marriages is being carried out in response to the government’s bid to hold a referendum to define marriage as between a man and a woman.