This piece also appeared in Urban Times.
Last Wednesday, Luxembourg became the latest European nation to equalise same-sex marriage as well as adoption rights for wedded gay couples. The bill was passed in the Chamber of Deputies by a vote of 56-4 and the new rules will be brought into effect by early 2015.
Before the vote, Schutz fir d’Kand (Protector of the Child), an anti-gay initiative set up by Luxembourg citizens, launched an online public petition calling for the bill to be scrapped and for a debate to be held in Parliament. The group argued that same-sex marriage and adoption would “deprive children of a coherent lineage” and “weaken family ties”. However, the initiative’s petition failed to reach its target number of 4500 signatures before its deadline last Saturday. Despite fierce opposition, the Chamber president also ruled out an extension on the 14 June deadline, stating that such arbitrary exceptions were not allowed.
The vote on the bill could therefore not be delayed, paving the way for gay marriage to be formally approved by Luxembourg MPs. The new reform includes provisions to prevent forced marriages, including fines and prison terms. The bill also raises thelegal age for marriage to 18 and scraps existing requirements for a medical exam before marriage. Finally, it drops the 300-day waiting period imposed on widowers and widows before they are allowed to remarry.
After the parliamentary elections last year, Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s openly gay prime minister and leader of the Democratic Party, spoke of establishing gay marriage equality within his first year in office. The land-locked country now joins the likes of Belgium, Brazil, Norway, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden in allowing nationwide same-sex marriage.
In light of the bill’s passing, The Independent reported that Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT rights programme praised the decision. He stated:
“This is a happy day for Luxembourg and for those who favour equal rights for all, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” He went on to add: “The law will enable gays and lesbians in Luxembourg to marry the person they love and will strengthen the fundamental rights of everyone in Luxembourg to equality and non-discrimination.”