Coalition parties argued the main goal of new legislation was to improve the status of children in the family, but the opposition said that while many of the solutions were good, the law would degrade the classic family by equalizing it with same-sex unions.
"With the family law bill, we are modernising more than 30-year-old legislation to adapt it in line with the situation on ground," Minister of Labour, the Family and Social Affairs Ivan Svetlik said in outlining the bill to lawmakers.
He said the focus and main principle of the law was the child and its rights and benefits. It lists measures to efficiently protect the child, also through more active role of courts and social services as well as consultation and mediation.
In line with its main credo, the law is expanding understanding of the family, which is represented by a child, regardless of the structure and other members of the family. The law also deals with adoptions and foster parents.
The law does not differentiate on the basis of race, gender, social standing, religious belief or sexual orientation, Svetlik said, adding: "The intention is to protect the interests and benefits of all children, no matter what type of family they live in."
However, the opposition believes the bill is unacceptable because it changes the understanding of the Slovenian family. Opposition deputies also argued that that living with same-sex parents would negatively impact on the child's development.
"This is the first time in history the family is being fatally degraded, in that its natural, biologic orientation into new life is being ignored," Democrat (SDS) deputy France Cukjati said.
The family as it is understood in current Slovenian legislation excludes same-sex unions, which discrimination is not unconstitutional, Cukjati said, noting that the Constitution stipulates that the state shall protect the family, mother- and father-hood, children and youth.
Cukjati wondered why the government was insisting on legalising gay adoptions, even at the cost that the entire law would be rejected in a referendum. The goal of what he called "Slovenian aggressive homosexual policy" is to degrade the classic family.
Countering his claim, Andreja Crnak Meglic of the senior coalition Social Democrats (SD) said the new legislation was not jeopardising anyone, the least so the Slovenian family or the Slovenian nation.
The law merely recognizes and allows diversity, rather than promoting or encouraging it, Crnak Meglic said, maintaining that ideological discourse was trying to silence professional arguments.
The SocDem deputy highlighted that the public consultation period showed that everyone was satisfied with the bulk of the solutions in the new family law. She singled out the introduction of the advocate of children's rights.
Other coalition parties reiterated that the law was only adapting to reality, that is pluralisation of families and the falling share of nuclear two-parent families.
Franc Jursa of Pensioner's Party (DeSUS) regretted though that while outlawing corporal punishment, the bill stops short of envisaging penalties for offenders.
Speaking on behalf of the opposition People's Party (SLS), Jakob Presecnik said the provisions equalizing gay unions with marriage between man and woman were not designed to protect children's rights, but to enforce "artificial right" to gay adoptions.
The reasons for such a radical change are not justified, and the consequences for the child have not been subject to sufficient research, Presecnik said, adding that only heterosexual unions were capable of natural reproduction, which he said was the basic interest of every social community.
The leader of the National Party (SNS) Zmago Jelincic earned three reprimands from the speaker for his strongly-worded rhetoric. Saying the proposal on gay adoptions was a crime against children, he accused the coalition of trying to put their "perverted sex matters" in this law.
Following the exchange in parliament were opponents of gay adoptions. Some members of the group, which included president of the non-parliamentary New Slovenia (NSi) Ljudmila Novak, wore T-shirts with a symbol of a heterosexual union and the slogan "Grateful for mum and dad".