Thursday, 23 July 2015

New draft of Armenia Constitution effectively bans same-sex marriage

Armenia’s (current) Constitution in many aspects (not all) is pretty progressive. Of course, having the Constitution full with progressive ideas does not mean that they are being implemented.

Now that Armenia president is moving towards the end of his second (and final) consecutive terms, ruling regime is finding ways to keep him in power even if not directly, and to ensure that Armenia is governed by Republican party in the foreseeable future. And here we are, we have this recently circulated new version of the Constitution to be approved by the parliament and then via national referendum.

Not only this new version of the Constitution is pretty dangerous in terms of turning Armenia into seemingly parliamentary but in reality autocratic country, but it contains further limitations of freedoms and rights, including LGBT related.

While current Constitution is way ahead of many other European constitutions by effectively allowing possibility of same-sex marriage (not that it was implemented, but at least there was no limitation), new draft with subtle changes in wording re-defines marriage as between man and woman.

In its latest newsletter, PINK Armenia circulated translated summary of these limiting provisions. One more reason, why there should be a firm NO to this draft Constitution.
On July 15, a state commission formed by President Serzh Sargsyan on publicized its draft constitutional amendments envisaging Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic with a largely ceremonial head of state not elected by popular vote.

Under the new Constitution, the president of the republic will be elected by an electoral college consisting of National Assembly members and representatives of local government bodies. It is widely believed that President Sargsyan has initiated the reform to be able to stay in power in some other capacity after completing his second and final presidential term in 2018.

Lawmakers discussing plans to amend Armenia's constitution back in 2005 expressed broad support for a ban on same-sex marriages. 10 years later we still witness the same intention. The Constitutional amendments refer to changes for the freedom of marriage.

Article 35 of the (current) Constitution of The Republic of Armenia states: Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and found a family according to their free will. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and divorce.
Article 34, in contrast, according to the amendments, states: Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry with each other and found a family according to their free will. Thus, the new Constitution is limiting the freedom of marriage to opposite sex, Armenia is to join the countries who have a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The draft Constitution is expected to be completed by early August. Subsequently, the draft shall be submitted to the President. If approved, it will be introduced to the National Assembly, and then a Referendum Day will be set.