The Slovenia Times

A Compromise Solution on Family Law?


The move comes after the Civil Initiative for the Family and the Rights of Children collected the 40,000 signatures needed to call the referendum, which it has not yet filed to parliament.

Recent public opinion polls have shown the majority of Slovenians would back the law enabling gay couples to adopt children, which would mean that the legislation could not be changed for a year.

The Family Initiative said at a press conference on Monday it had sent its proposal to Speaker of the National Assembly Gregor Virant, heads of parliamentary parties and deputy groups, the Civil Initiative for the Family and the Rights of Children, and to the For All Families civil initiative, which supports the law.

According to the head of the Family Initiative, Tomaž Merše, politicians and representatives of the civil society should give their response to the proposal, which includes changes to the definitions of marriage and common-law marriage, by Tuesday evening.

Subsequently, all parties would meet for talks on Wednesday or Thursday. The deadline for filing the referendum motion is 11 February.

The chair of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) and a member of the National Medical Ethics Committee Jože Trontelj backed the initiative by saying that any decisions made must foremost benefit children.

He called for independent research into child adoption by homosexual couples. He also added that he had not been involved in either the drawing up of the law or the referendum initiative.

Aleš Primc of the Civil Initiative for the Family and the Rights of Children responded today by saying that the proposal should be given a chance. He said the referendum motion would not be filed until parliamentary parties said if they were ready to accept the "compromise proposal".

While stating that the proposal by the Family Initiative did not include all issues highlighted as controversial by the proponents of the referendum, he said they were nevertheless open for talks.

Outgoing Labour, Family and Social Affairs Minister Ivan Svetlik, whose ministry drafted the law, said that some solutions from the proposal were good, while some were controversial.

He is most bothered by the part limiting the rights of partners living in common-law marriage to those stated in the law, which according to him means that gay couples would lose some of the rights they currently enjoy.

He also believes that the purpose of marriage should not be limited to "starting a family" and that the fulfillment of emotional, sexual, moral/ethical and economic needs should also be included in the definition.

Svetlik also opposes the scrapping of civil partnerships from the law, arguing that this would put such partnership in an inferior position.

The minister nevertheless welcomed the fact that the proposal leaves the definition of family, adoptions and the rights of children intact.

The For All Families civil initiative on the other hand sees the proposal not as a "compromise" but a bid to preserve the "current unconstitutional state". The implementation of the family law has been suspended pending a possible referendum.

The initiative said it was not surprised that the proposal had come in a time when public opinion polls show the citizens would support the law at the referendum, but added they were nevertheless ready to discuss it.

The two opposition parties, Positive Slovenia and the Social Democrats (SD), said they did not support the proposal, with the SD labelling it "misleading", as it brought new discriminatory and unconstitutional solutions.

The coalition People's Party (SLS) and the Virant List meanwhile said they were yet to study the document, while the Democrats (SDS) refused to comment. The SLS said they liked the idea of scrapping the referendum, while the Virant List said they supported the family law in its current form.

The coalition New Slovenia (NSi) said they supported compromise solutions, which could help avoid a referendum and ideological disputes, which they believe Slovenia does not need and were spurred by the outgoing government by its sticking to the current form of the family law.

The new family law, adopted by the outgoing left-leaning government, updates the legislation from 1976 by introducing among other things a ban on corporal punishment of children, establishes a children's rights ombudsman and transfers decisions on children's rights in custody disputes from social centres to courts.

But the focus of debates on the law has fallen on gay couples getting the same rights as heterosexual couples. That would have allowed gay couples to adopt children, which has sparked protest from conservative pro-family groups backed by the Catholic Church.

After lengthy debates, the National Assembly passed a compromise solution in June 2011 under which gay couples can marry but adopt only each other's children.


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