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17.12.2009 19:23
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Family Law Bill Ready for Parliament (adds)

adds more responses in final para
Foto Foto servis

Minister of Labour, the Family and Social Affairs Ivan Svetlik speaking to the press after the government session.
File photo.

Ljubljana, 17 December (STA) - The government announced on Thursday that the new family law bill which envisages the equalisation of same-sex unions with other family unions, gay marriage and adoptions by gay couples is ready to be sent into discussion at the National Assembly.

Minister of Labour, the Family and Social Affairs Ivan Svetlik told a press conference after the government session that the bill gives a legal framework for the new practice that has established itself over the last decades, pointing out that the share of non-traditional families has increased substantially.

The bill leaves the traditional matrimonial partnership between a man and a woman untouched and establishes no new family forms, but only acknowledges the ones that already exist, he stressed.

Svetlik explained that the goal was to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation, as was ruled by the Constitutional Court.

The government respects everyone's right to choose their own lifestyle and now also makes those whose families fell apart and who reorganised their families equal to other citizens with all their human rights, the minister added.

He pointed out that the ministry also supports traditional families, especially with financial contributions to numerous programmes and projects, which totaled 111 this year.

Furthermore, the proposed bill prohibits corporal punishment of children and other forms of humiliating treatment, which goes for parents as well as other persons, state authorities and public office holders.

According to the minister, this follows the principles that a child is in central position in a family and a condition for a community to be called a family, while the well-being of a child depends mainly on the quality of relations within the community and not on the type of community.

The bill meanwhile brings the bulk of family-related legislation in one document and further introduces the possibility of prenuptial agreements, transfers the jurisdiction over adoptions to courts to relieve social centres and makes it easier to intervene in a family if suspicion arises that a child is in danger.

The minister said the bill will now be referred to the National Assembly for standard legislative procedure, adding that the government will use all democratic and legal means to pass the bill, preferably in the spring of 2010 at the latest.

The proposal to equalise same-sex unions with traditional marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children has been raising much dust for some time, inciting vigorous opposition by conservative parties, the Catholic Church and other groups.

In response to the announcement, opposition People's Party (SLS) and National Party (SNS) noted that some parts of the bill are necessary and good, but stressed they will only support the bill if equalisation of same-sex unions is dropped and that they will go for a referendum otherwise.

SLS deputy group leader Jakob Presecnik regrets the government refused to negotiate with the opposition when forming the proposal, while SNS president Zmago Jelincic said the bill has been drawn up "hypocritically", enforcing "unnatural and inappropriate" provisions together with good changes.

Coalition Social Democrats (SD), Liberal Democrats (LDS) and Zares meanwhile pointed out in their responses that the bill is modern and is not mainly about same-sex marriage, but about the rights of children.

The biggest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS), on the other hand, stressed that the government wants to set the right of same-sex couples to adopt children before the right of children to be adopted by a traditional family.

Two civil initiatives also raised their voices, the one campaigning for the bill claiming it is a natural next step towards pluralisation and democratisation of Slovenia, while the Civil Initiative for the Family and the Rights of Children hopes a broad consensus can be reached through constructive dialogue.

The group is meanwhile already promoting the idea to hold a referendum, and states that a petition for the family and the rights of children has already been signed by over 25,000 people.

The newly appointed Archbishop of Ljubljana Anton Stres regrets the government did not consider the "voices that were clear enough in the public discussion" when cutting deep into the basic values, pointing out that the majority in Slovenia does not support the controversial changes.

17.12.2009 19:23

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