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LATVIA

President Signs Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment

 

 

Please, let us be tolerant towards other people’s freedom of choice,” President tells nation

 

SEE ALSO
Disappointed Latvian Gays Call on President to Press for Legal Same-Sex Partnership: Epiphany of Homophobia in Latvian Politics.  A last-ditch plea to the Latvian President from a group of European Members of Parliament failed to alter her decision to sign the constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman which was passed last week by the Latvian parliament.

 



 


RIGA, December 21, 2005  –  The President of Latvia, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, has signed the constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Latvia becomes the first country in Europe to have an anti-gay clause in its constitution.

The announcement came this afternoon shortly after a meeting between the President and the Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis of the Latvia First Party.

 
■ President Vaira Vike-Freiberga
 

In a statement, the President pointed out that the change to the constitution did not alter anything as marriage was already defined in civil law as being between a man and a woman.

If one had in mind that by adding such requirement to the constitution it will guarantee that it will stay there for ever and all the time, then it is of course an illusion – a wrong hope,” she said.

The President then pointed out that Parliament can amend the amendment whenever it wants.

“Honestly speaking, I, as a president, cannot see clearly the benefit of this amendment to the nation. However since indeed it does not change anything in substance for the better neither for the worst, I do not see any reason not to sign it, the President said.

“I would also like to stress that this constitutional amendment in no way introduces any discriminatory requirements towards gays and lesbians.

President Vike-Freiberga then went of to comment on the debate in Parliament.

“The debates which took place in the Saeima [parliament] when discussing this amendment, in my view, very often demonstrated very explicit intolerance and explicit homophobia,” she said.

People can have their own religious beliefs, their own understanding of what is sin and what is not, what is appropriate and what is not appropriate behaviour.

However, as a president, I would like to remind, that in a democratic nation as we are, a private life is separated form a public sphere  and what people do in their intimacy is no one’s business, unless it contradicts our laws.

Everyone is equal in their rights. I also would like to ask people not come out with extreme statements which encourage and promote hate, prejudice and which humiliate and devalue those thinking or living differently.

We all want to enjoy freedom provided by our constitution and our democracy. Please, let us be tolerant towards other people’s freedom of choice,”  she pleaded.

Note:  The official English language translation from the President's office will be available tomorrow (December 22) on the President's website. 

 

UK Timeline Of Gay and Lesbian Marriage, Partnership or Unions Worldwide.  From the Netherlands in 1979 to the UK's new law effective today, all the legislation - strong and weak - that recognises same-sex partnerships to some degree or another.  (UK Gay News, December 5, 2005)

SEE ALSO

Disappointed Latvian Gays Call on President to Press for Legal Same-Sex Partnership: Epiphany of Homophobia in Latvian Politics.  A last-ditch plea to the Latvian President from a group of European Members of Parliament failed to alter her decision to sign the constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman which was passed last week by the Latvian parliament. (UK Gay News, December 21, 2005)

Latvian President’s ‘Gay Marriage’ Decision Expected Today.  Latvian Radio is reporting that President Vaira Vike-Freiberga might be announcing today her decision on the proposed constitutional amendment that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. (UK Gay News, December 20, 2005)

Latvian Gays Seek International Support for Petition to President.  Gay and lesbian activists have launched an online petition calling on the Latvian president not to sign the constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. (UK Gay News, December 18)

Gay TV Personality Criticises Latvian Parliament As Euro-MPs Have Their Say.  From an “out gay” television personality in Latvia to Members of the European Parliament, there has been continued criticism of Latvia's Saeima (Parliament) following the third and final reading of the Constitutional Amendment that will define “marriage” as being between a man and a woman. (UK Gay News, December 15, 2005)

Latvia Cements Homophobia Into Constitution As Gay Marriage is Banned.  The Latvia Parliament has adopted a constitutional change that defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman.  This will prevent any possibility for gay marriage in the future.  This morning, 65 MPs voted in favour of the change at the amendment’s third – and final – reading in Parliament. (UK Gay News, December 15, 2005)

Latvia Moving Backwards, Say Gay and Lesbian Intergroup of MEPs.  Two leading Members of the European Parliament’s gay and lesbian rights ‘Intergroup’ have today expressed “serious concern” on the increased homophobia in Latvia. (UK Gay News, December 6, 2005)

Block Put on Gay Marriage by Latvian Parliament A change in the constitution that will define marriage as being between a man and a woman, and blocks the way for “gay marriage”, became a virtual certainty today when the 100-seat Latvian parliament passed the proposal with a massive majority in the amendment’s second reading. (UK Gay News, December 1, 2005)

Gays in Latvia Have an Official Watchdog.  A new independent department that will keep an eye on discrimination has been set-up by the government in Latvia.  And the National Human Rights Office will be embracing the gay and lesbian community as well as other sections of society as well as racism and other forms of discrimination. (UK Gay News, November 30, 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Posted: 21 December 2005 at 12:30 (UK time)  Updated 14:00

 

 

 

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