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Autor: Jade MacEwan

Montenegro passed a bill on the 2nd of July to legalise civil partnerships, becoming both the first country in the Balkans to do so. Forty-two out of eighty-one MPs voted to approve it, with only five MPs voting against the bill (EuroNews, 2020).

Montenegro’s leaders welcomed the new law, with Prime Minister Duško Marković describing the law as “a great step in the right direction for Montenegrin society”, and President Milo Đukanović stating that it brings Montenegro “one step closer to joining the most developed world democracies” (European Western Balkans, 2020).

John Barac, executive director of the LGBT+ advocacy group LGBT Forum Progress, said that he had not truly believed that the bill would pass. LGBT Forum Progress stated that the new law, which gives same-sex couples many of the same rights as heterosexual married couples, with the exception of child adoption, has “unspeakably tremendous importance for all LGBT persons in Montenegro” (EuroNews, 2020).

Montenegro, a country with a population of around 620,000, which is currently in accession talks with the European Union, is the 32nd United Nations member to approve civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The approval of the new law comes after its previous rejection in July 2019 (Reuters, 2020). As early as 2012, Marković had promised that same-sex couples would be able to have partial marital rights, and had said that this would be necessary in order for Montenegro to later join the EU. However, when the bill was brought to parliament in 2019, the opposition party, Democratic Front, fought against the proposal with the help of the Serbian Orthodox Church, claiming that civil partnerships would be a threat to Montenegrin family life and so-called “Christian values”. It is therefore not surprising that LGBT+ campaigners did not expect the bill to be passed successfully quite so soon after its initial rejection (Gay Star News, 2020).

The new law will come into force a year from now after government officials have received training relating to the law, and once the regulations have been finalised. The first civil partnerships will then be able to take place. In addition, police and health workers will receive anti-discrimination as part of a four-year “LGBT+ action plan” to help promote better LGBT+ rights in Montenegro (Gay Star News, 2020).

As a predominantly conservative country, this is a big step forward for human rights in Montenegro, although as Jovan Ulicevic, director of the Spektra association says, “the road to real equality is still ahead” (EuroNews, 2020).  However, the fact that this bill has already been passed is a very promising sign for the future of LGBT+ rights in this small Balkan country (EuroNews, 2020).


Links to Resources

EuroNews with AP, AFP (2020-07-02). Montenegro Becomes First Country in Balkans to Legalise Civil Partnerships. EuroNews.

EWB. (2020-07-02). Montenegro legalises same-sex civil partnerships. European Western Balkans.

Reid-Smith, T. (2020-07-02). Tiny European Country of Montenegro Legalizes Same-Sex Partnerships. Gay Star News.

Savage, R. (2020-07-01). Montenegro legalises same-sex civil partnerships. Reuters.

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