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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 13, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 11
Same-sex marriage is a human right, European Parliament says
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Same-sex marriage is a human right, European Parliament says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The European Parliament has called on EU member states to recognize same-sex marriages and civil unions as a human right.

'The European Parliament takes note of the legalization of same-sex marriage or same-sex civil unions in an increasing number of countries around the world,' the group said in a March 12 resolution, and 'encourages the EU institutions and the Member States to further contribute to reflection on the recognition of same-sex marriage or same-sex civil union as a political, social and human and civil rights issue.'

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 11 of the 28 members of the EU: Belgium, Denmark, Finland (effective 2017), France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia (effective date pending), Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland.)

Same-sex civil unions are legal in another nine members of the EU: Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia (effective 2016), Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Malta.

Only eight EU countries deny recognition to same-sex couples: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia. The new left-wing government of Greece has said it wants to pass a civil unions law, but has not yet offered a bill.

The resolution on same-sex relationships came out of discussions on parliament's annual report on human rights.

While parliamentary resolutions may influence public opinion in Europe, they do not have the force of law. The European Parliament has power to enact binding laws only on matters that affect the EU as a whole, and it is not allowed to intervene in the domestic politics of member states.

The European Parliament is elected by popular vote every five years. The 751 seats are allocated among EU members in proportion to the national population. It is currently run by a center-right/center-left coalition.

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