MEPs address Czech government regarding registration of same-sex partnerships
Prime-Minister, Czech Government, Andrej Babiš
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Czech Government, Jan Hamáček
Brussels, 20 November 2020
Subject: Discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples due to unequal restrictive conditions on partnership registration
Dear Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš,
Dear Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Jan Hamáček,
As members of the LGBTI intergroup, we write to you with concern over the recent measures adopted regarding the registration of same-sex partnerships during the current period. We refer in particular to Government Decree n. 1113, published on 30.10.2020. Having been alerted to its discriminatory effect, we would like to request you to re-assess and change the current policy in order to ensure that any measures adopted are in full and effective respect of the principle of anti-discrimination.
Such as it is, provision II. (11) of the Decree n. 1113, which lifts the ban on the freedom of movement for the purposes of a wedding but not for the purposes of registration of same-sex partnership, directly discriminates against same-sex couples. Guided by the explanatory note the government has published on its website www.covid.gov.cz, same-sex registrations are only allowed under clause II. (6) which allows for urgent official matters. Hence, unlike different-sex couples, who can marry freely, the only requirement being a restriction on the number of guests at their weddings, same-sex couples can only register their partnership in the case of urgency, such as if one of their lives is at risk. This constitutes clear and unjustifiable discrimination. Equally, we fail to understand how this measure is in full alignment with the objective of reducing the spread of COVID-19, given that marriages between different-sex partners are still allowed and are effectively taking place.
While current COVID-19 crisis requires the adoption of stricter rules, all measures taken to curtail the rights of the citizens must be proportionate, justifiable and cannot be discriminatory. The European Parliament adopted recently a resolution on the impact of COVID-19 measures on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights, where:
- it called on Member States to ensure when measures restricting the rule of law or fundamental rights are adopted, assessed or reviewed, those measures observe the recommendations of international bodies;
- it called on Member States not to abuse emergency powers to pass legislation unrelated to the COVID-19 health emergency objectives;
- it recognized that discrimination vis-à-vis LGBTI persons had increased during the current period.
The calls of the European Parliament on Member States resonate those of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which adopted a similar resolution on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on human rights and the rule of law. In particular, PACE called on the Member States to “ensure that all measures restricting human rights that may be taken in response to a public health emergency are lawful, necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory, and that they fully respect the principles applicable to states of emergency that have been elaborated by the Venice Commission”.
Putting same-sex partnership registrations under severely stricter rules is not a proportionate requirement with a justified cause. Quite contrarily, it sends the message that same-sex couples can be (and are effectively) treated differently and that their families deserve less consideration in a time of pandemic. Especially in times like these, we should show compassion and ensure that all families can build strong familial links, in practice and in law, to overcome this period in collective support.
In compliance with the above, we urge you to unify provisions for same-sex couples and different-sex couples and to allow registration of partnerships under the same conditions as marriage.
Fabio Massimo CASTALDO, EP Vice-President & Vice-President, LGBTI Intergroup
Frederick FEDERLEY, Vice-President, Renew Europe
Frédérique RIES, Vice-President, Renew Europe
Michal ŠIMEČKA, Vice-President, Renew Europe
Ernest URTASUN, Vice-President, Greens/European Free Alliance
Kira PETER-HANSEN, Vice-President, Greens/European Free Alliance
Terry REINTKE, Vice-President, Greens/European Free Alliance & Co-Chair, LGBTI Intergroup
Marc ANGEL, Co-Chair, LGBTI Intergroup
Liesje SCHREINEMACHER, Vice-President, LGBTI Intergroup
Maria WALSH, Vice-President, LGBTI Intergroup
Kim VAN SPARRENTAK
Sophie IN’T VELD
 Czech Government Covid Portal, accessible at https://covid.gov.cz/situace/zivotni-udalosti/uzavreni-registrovaneho-partnerstvi.
 European Parliament resolution of 13 November 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 measures on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, P9_TA(2020)0307, ¶3, accessible at https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2020-0307_EN.html.
 id., ¶17.
 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (13 October 2020), Resolution 2338 (2020), “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on human rights and the rule of law”, ¶12.1.1., accessible at https://pace.coe.int/en/files/28771/html.