Kosovo snubs recognition of same-sex civil unions

Kosovo has voted not to legalise same sex civil unions. Photo: Shutterstock, 9nong

Kosovo lawmakers on Wednesday (16 March) rejected a law that would recognise same-sex civil partnerships, failing to become the first Muslim-majority country to adopt such legislation.

After hours of fierce debate in parliament, only 28 MPs out of 120 supported the motion by leftist prime minister Albin Kurti’s government.

The proposal was part of a broader civil reform backed by the European Union, which Kosovo’s leaders want the country to join.

Among those who voted against were many prominent officials of Kurti’s ruling Vetevendosje party.

Labinote Demi-Murtezi, a ruling party representative, said she only “sees as acceptable the marriage of persons of opposite sex”.

“Any connection outside of this combination is considered depravity and moral degeneration,” Demi-Murtezi said during the session.

The government had proposed that “registered civil unions between people of the same sex be allowed”.

“Rights belong to us. They belong to everyone,” Kurti told MPs.

Local news portal Express said that “homophobia triumphed in the Kosovo assembly”.

Despite its pro-Western leadership, Kosovo is largely socially conservative.

More than 90 per cent of people in the territory are practising Muslims.

Had the reform been adopted, Kosovo would have become the first Muslim majority democracy in the world to recognise same-sex marriage.

The bill was part of a broader proposed reform to the civil code which also covered issues such as minority rights and business.

In early March, the European Union office in Pristina urged parliament to pass the reform.

“Failure to adopt the civil code will have serious negative repercussions on many aspects of the life of Kosovo citizens and businesses, as well as on the overall economic development of Kosovo,” the EU office said.

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