Kosovo Promises to Legalize Same-Sex Unions

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.26 - 2024 7:53 AM CET

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Kosovo promises to introduce same-sex unions in May

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Kosovo's government intends to legalize same-sex unions in May, Prime Minister Albin Kurti announced on Thursday, April 25. The move is part of Kosovo's ongoing efforts to join the Council of Europe. The news was reported by Euractiv.

Efforts to Legalize Same-Sex Unions

This move by Kosovo, if successful, would make it the first Muslim-majority country to legalize same-sex unions, and only the second in the Western Balkans, following Montenegro.

A previous attempt to introduce same-sex civil unions in Kosovo failed in 2022 when it was voted down in parliament. However, this time, Prime Minister Kurti has the support of most of his party's MPs and is confident the vote will pass in May, despite needing to convince 11 opposition lawmakers.

Kurti told Euractiv that the introduction of same-sex unions represents an effort to demonstrate Kosovo's commitment to human rights, a crucial factor in its bid to join the Council of Europe.

The prime minister also indicated that political attitudes have changed, suggesting a shift in societal acceptance of same-sex unions, despite their relative unpopularity in Kosovo. A 2023 survey showed only 20% support for same-sex unions, up from 12% in 2015.

Impact on Kosovo's Council of Europe Bid

The announcement of the same-sex unions proposal is part of a broader effort by Kosovo to gain support for its accession to the Council of Europe. The Strasbourg-based human rights body requires a two-thirds majority vote from its committee of ministers, which comprises foreign ministers from member states.

Kurti's visit to Germany, where he announced the same-sex unions plan, was aimed at securing the support of the German government, a key player in the Council of Europe.

Kosovo's bid to join the Council of Europe has faced resistance from Serbia, which has threatened to leave the organization if Kosovo becomes a member.

Despite this, Kosovo's membership bid was overwhelmingly approved by the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly earlier this month, prompting Serbia's threats. However, under agreements with Kosovo, backed by the European Union, Serbia is meant to refrain from blocking Pristina's membership in international organizations.

EU Pressure on Serbia

The European Union has applied pressure on Serbia to ensure it does not obstruct Kosovo's path to international recognition and integration.

The EU has issued an ultimatum to Serbia, indicating that it could face suspension of its EU accession path if it continues to block Kosovo's entry into organizations such as the EU, Council of Europe, NATO, or the United Nations.

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