Press release: The bill to redefine “family” in Latvia is an affront to LGBTI persons, the rule of law and European values
Brussels, 15 January 2021
On 14 January 2020, during the Plenary session of the Latvian Parliament, the draft bill “Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia” passed and was sent to the respective Committee for review. The draft bill proposed by the ruling coalition party National Alliance (NA) aims at restricting the notion of “family” in the Constitution and to exclude from its scope certain families and family models, for example, same-sex couples and unmarried families without children.
The bill reads: “The State protects and supports marriage – a union between a man and a woman, a family based on marriage, blood relation or adoption, the rights of parents and a child, including the right to grow up in a family based on a mother (woman) and father (man).”
On 12 November 2020, the Latvian Constitutional Court had delivered a judgement recognising the rights of a same-sex couple to parental leave under the Labour Act and recognising that family is not just a marriage-based union (case 2019-33-01). The bill directly relates to this judgement.
The recent developments in Latvia baffled the LGBTI community in Europe. Instead of focusing on the impact of COVID on its citizens and proposing measures to further protect them, the NA party unilaterally proposed a bill that would strip some citizens of their rights. This bill perfectly sums up illiberal politics: it delivers radical ideas only to sow hatred and polarize society. We condemn the proposals of this draft bill in the strongest terms and urge the Parliamentarians to listen to their people, as well as civil society and the organisations which have called for its rejection.
It is always easy to catalyse hate. The politics of tolerance and acceptance, however, are hard to come by. Yet this is about much more: this bill directly neglects the jurisprudence of the Latvian Constitutional Court and is therefore an afront to the rule of law. Can we merely accept a suspension of Latvia’s obligations under European human rights law and standards? As legislators, we have a responsibility to uphold human rights – they are not trade-off coins for populist ends. We call on the Latvian Parliament to act in defence of its citizens’ rights and reject this bill at first reading.
Office of Liesje Schreinemacher MEP – Solange Kamm (Solange.Kamm@europarl.europa.eu)
Office of Maria Walsh MEP (Media@mariawalsh.eu)