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Parliament in Montenegro voted to legalize same-sex civil partnerships on Wednesday, so becoming the first country in the region that is not a member of the European Union to recognise gay and lesbian couples in law.
The vote was 42 to 5 in the seat chamber. LGBT activists praised the decision as a historic step for society.
On his FacebookZdravko Cimbaljevic, the first openly declared gay man in Montenegro, said the law had finally passed after years of hard work, lobbying, conversations, and despite visible homophobia within parliament and among religious leaders. In late he obtained political asylum to Canada after he said he faced serious threats in his home country. This was only the latest attempt by the Montenegrin parliament to adopt the law. The country first moved to legalize same-sex unions in but that first attempt failed.
Another law recognizing same-sex unions failed to pass the chamber on July 31, Together with most opposition MPs, all the ethnic minority representatives in parliament voted against the law on Wednesday — namely the Bosniak Party, the Croatian Civil Initiative, and the ethnic Albanian party Forca, which are all part of the ruling DPS-led coalition.
The main opposition bloc, the Democratic Front, DF, which is socially conservative and close to Russia, said most citizens in Montenegro were against same-sex unions and accused the government of undermining traditional values. The new law recognizes same-sex couples as legal unions but does not give them the same rights as married couples.
They are still not allowed to adopt or foster children, for example, which human rights organizations say restrict LGBT rights; same-sex couples are also not recognized as families. Homosexuality remains a sensitive issue in the still socially conservative country, as it does elsewhere in the Balkans.
Earlier surveys suggested that 71 per cent of citizens in Montenegro consider homosexuality an illness and that every second citizen agreed that homosexuality is a danger to society and that the state should suppress it.
Of other former Yugoslav republics in the region, EU-members Croatia and Slovenia have legalized same-sex unions. They are still not allowed to adopt or foster children, for example, which human rights organizations say restrict LGBT rights; same-sex couples are also not recognized as families Homosexuality remains a sensitive issue in the still socially conservative country, as it does elsewhere in the Balkans.
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