Despite personal objections, Latvian President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga has signed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Ms Vike-Frreiberga has in the past strongly objected to the ban but was forced to approve the amendment after 65 out of 80 Latvian MPs voted in favour of the change.
The amendment makes the Baltic state the only member of the EU to ban gay marriage in its constitution.
Imants Kozlovskis, of the International Lesbian and Gay Association claims the President was mistaken to let the change pass through to law: “we believe our President missed a unique opportunity to stop the development of homophobia and hate within Latvian politics. It is pitiful that she did not notice the nature of the amendment – a single political party’s pre-election populist campaign when LGBT people were used as a target for hate, humiliation and harassment.”
The amended constitution now reads: “the State protects and support marriage – a union between a man and a woman, family, rights of parents and children. The State provides special protection to disabled children, those children left without parents’ and children who suffered from violence.”
Homosexuality has been a major political issue in the new EU member state since the country’s first gay pride march was held in Riga during July of this year.
Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe (International Lesbian and Gay Alliance) branded the move as homophobic: “We are appalled and seriously concerned with these homophobic developments in Latvia. As an EU member state, Latvia is acting contradictory to and disrespectfully to the principles of equality and non-discrimination agreed and confirmed by various EU treaties.
“Not only has Latvia now a discriminatory constitutional provision motivated solely by homophobia, but Latvia is still the only EU member state which did not ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment as required by the EU employment equality directive.”