LGBTQ+ community and politicians salute Montenegro's new law on same-sex partnerships

Montenegrin activists at the 2013 SeaSide Pride in Budva, holding signs reading “I'm like you,” “For marriage equality,” “Love is love,” and “I vote for love.” Photo by LGBTQ+ Forum Progres, CC BY-NC-SA.

Montenegro's parliament has adopted a law on life partnership for same-sex couples, making Montenegro the first country in the Western Balkans to legally recognize same-sex marriage.

The law passed on July 1 does not include provisions to allow same-sex couples to adopt children. In all other aspects, their rights are the same as for heterosexual couples, including property rights, inheritance, social and health security.

Non-governmental organizations LGBTI Forum Progres and the LGBTIQ Social Center, as well as their constituent communities, applauded the adoption of the law, congratulating all LGBTQ+ persons on the historic achievement:

Činjenica da je konačno usvojen Zakon o životnom partnerstvu ima neizrecivo velik značaj za sve LGBTI osobe u Crnoj Gori. Ovo je nesaglediv pomak naprijed za crnogorsko društvo, na naročitu radost cjelokupne LGBTI zajednice. Kao organizacija koja niz godina zagovara pravno prepoznavanje istopolnih zajednica i kao aktivni učesnici Radne grupe koja je kreirala ovaj Zakon, veoma smo srećni zbog ovakvog ishoda koji smo dugo čekali. Sada ostaje ono ključno – primjena ovog zakona u praksi – što je sljedeći veliki korak u procesu zaštite ljudskih prava LGBTI osoba.

The fact that the Law on life partnership has finally been adopted has unspeakably enormous importance for all LGBTI persons in Montenegro. This is an immense advancement for Montenegrin society that has filled with joy the entire LGBTI community. As an organization which advocates for legal recognition of same-sex unions, and as active participants of the Working Group that created this bill, we are so happy with this long-awaited outcome. Now a key issue remains — implementation of this law in practice, which will be the next great step in the process of protection of human rights of LGBTI persons.

Montenegro has come a long way in the fight against homophobia over the years.

In 2013 the First Pride was subject to physical violence, incitement to killings and other verbal abuse from about 200 counter-protesters.

In 2015 the Montenegrin authorities banned the Pride March deeming it “too risky”, with police claiming it could not protect the marchers from threats of violence by homophobic groups.

More recently, the Pride Marches in 2017 passed without incident, while the one in 2018 featured high-ranking political figures.

Last year the parliament failed to pass the bill on same-sex partnerships due to the lack of a quorum.

President Milo Đukanović, who has held top executive positions in the Montenegrin government since 1991, saluted the development, portraying it as proof that the country is moving in the direction of the “most developed democracies in the world.”

One more step of Montenegro towards the company of the most developed democracies in the world! By adopting the Law on life partnership of persons of the same sex, Montenegro is legally regulating same sex communities for the first time!

Prime Minister Duško Marković also welcomed the adoption of the law.

Ovo je veliki iskorak u pravom smjeru za crnogorsko društvo, njegovu demokratsku zrelost i proces integracije. Ravnopravnost i jednaka prava za sve osnov su ljudskih i evropskih vrijednosti. Zahvaljujem LGBTIQ zajednici na dijalogu i doprinosu. U evropskoj Crnoj Gori nema i ne treba da bude mjesta za diskriminaciju po osnovu seksualnog opredjeljenja.

This is a great step forward in the right direction for Montenegrin society, its democratic maturity and integration processes. Equality and same rights for all are the cornerstone of human and European values. I want to thank the LGBTIQ community for dialogue and contribution. There can be no room for discrimination based on sexual orientation in a European Montenegro.

The ambassadors of the United Kingdom and the United States welcomed the adoption of the law, too.

Activist Bojana Jokić from the LGBTI Forum Progress sounded a note of caution, however, referring to recent limitations imposed on public gatherings:

Iako je današnje glasanje velika stvar za Crnu Goru, želim kratko da se osvrnem i na dešavanja koja minulih sedmica potresaju naše društvo. Kao aktivistkinja i građanka sam zabrinuta zbog ograničavanja ljudskih prava i sloboda kojima svjedočimo, a koja nas podsjećaju da niko od nas nije slobodan i jednak dok svi u društvu nisu slobodni i jednaki.

Even though today's vote was a big thing for Montenegro, I would like to shortly address the issues from the last several weeks that have shaken our society. As an activist and citizen I am concerned in regard to limitations of human rights and freedoms, which remind us that nobody is free and equal until everybody in the society is free and equal.

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