Marriage Equality Comes To Slovenia—With An Asterisk

"If you truly recognize human rights you recognize them in full," said one gay couple.

Same-sex marriage is officially legal in Slovenia as of today, with the first wedding taking place on Saturday in Maribor.

Two women kiss as they attend the Gay Pride Parade in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on June 15, 2013. AFP PHOTO / JURE MAKOVEC        (Photo credit should read Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images)
Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images

Lawmakers passed marriage equality legislation last April, making Slovenia the first central European country to do so. Many countries in the region still harbor anti-gay sentiment from the Soviet era, but a desire to enter the European Union has seen movement on the LGBT rights front.

The path to equality in Slovenia has had many twists and turns: Civil partnerships have been recognized since 2006, but provided limited rights. After the Constitutional Court ruled in 2009 such partnerships violated the country’s non-discrimination codes, it ordered the legislature to address the issue within six months.

But it wasn’t until 2015, that the Assembly passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, by a 51-28 vote. Opponents pushed for a referendum, which was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court but went on regardless. It resulted in the equal marriage bill being rejected in December 2015.

Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images

Then, on April 21, 2016, the Assembly approved a new same-sex marriage bill. Another petition for a referendum was launched, but the president of the Assembly denied it, calling it an abuse of power. The law became effective on on February 24, 2017.

“Slovenia is entering the 21st century,” said MP Matej Vatovec, who introduced the bill last year. He added that passing marriage equality ensured the country would become “a truly tolerant and inclusive community.”

The LGBT rights group Legebitra called today a “big step forward,” though same-sex couples are still barred from adoption and artificial insemination.

“We are still far from our goal,” couple Jure Poglajen and David Zorko said in a statement. “If you truly recognize human rights you recognize them in full. The new law solves some problems but does not solve the basic problem that all people in our country should have the same rights.”

h/t: Gay Star News

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.