Yesterday Macedonia’s legislature overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and made it more difficult to legalize civil unions in the future.
The amendment defines that “marriage 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).
Macedonia has population of two million, two-thirds of whom are Eastern Orthodox.