FYR Macedonia bans same-sex marriage and creates constitutional obstacle future civil unions

On the 20th January, 2015, the Parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) constitutionally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Furthermore, it created a constitutional hurdle to possible future legislation on same-sex civil unions.

The amendment defines that “[m]arriage shall be a life union solely of one woman and one man.” Furthermore, point two reads that “legal relations in marriage, family, and civil unions are to be regulated by a law adopted by a two-thirds majority of the total number of Members of Parliament.”

The amendment found a majority of 72-4.

As a consequence, issues concerning family law will need the same majority as issues of territorial integrity, sovereignty, and the functioning of the State.

An earlier version of the draft Amendment, which explicitly banned same-sex civil unions or registered cohabitation was strongly criticized by the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe in constitutional affairs.

The Commission argued that if the Amendment would regulate other partnerships than marriage, it should ensure equality in terms of rights for same-sex and opposite-sex partnerships, in line with Article 8 (right to private and family life) and Article 14 (right to non-discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

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