Civil partnership bills discussed in the Romanian Parliament

Amid discussions about changing the definition of family in the Romanian Constitution, two draft bills on civil partnership have been submitted to the Parliament. One was drafted by the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) while the second one was submitted to the Senate by MP Oana Bizgan.

CNCD’s draft bill is aimed at regulating the legal framework in which the consensual union is legally recognized. According to this bill, the consensual union targets both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and can be registered with the civil status officer. However, it can also be legally recognized even if it’s not registered, under the law.

The persons who have concluded a consensual union have the same rights as those who are married. For example, one of the partners can use the other one’s health insurance in the public health system, being co-insured. However, the draft bill stipulates that same-sex couples can’t adopt.

Meanwhile, MP Oana Bizgan submitted to the Senate a draft bill on civil partnership, which also grants legal rights to couples. The initiative removes from the Civil Code the provision prohibiting same-sex couples such a union, local Mediafax reported.

“Within the EU, under the principle of subsidiarity, regulating forms of cohabitation is not the exclusive competence of the EU – each Member State is responsible for providing the legal framework necessary to protect the private and family life of its citizens. At EU level, 22 countries, through regulations, offer citizens the opportunity to formalize their relationship as a couple without being forced to get married, having the civil partnership as an alternative,” Bizgan said.

The idea of civil partnership was brought into public attention by Liviu Dragnea, the president of the Chamber of Deputies and the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), who said at the end of March that he wanted a debate on the opportunity of regulating the civil partnership in Romania. The statement came amid discussions about the need to change the definition of family in the Constitution. According to deputy prime minister Paul Stanescu, a referendum on the family definition could be organized in May. However, the Referendum Law, which is currently debated in the Parliament, has to come into force first.

The Chamber of Deputies adopted in May last year the citizens’ initiative that aims to change the definition of family in Romania’s Constitution. The Coalition for Family gathered three million signatures in support of this initiative in 2016. At present, the Romanian Constitution defines the family as the free-willed marriage “between spouses”. However, the initiative’s promoters want to amend it so that it mentions that a family is the union between a man and a woman. The measure would thus make same-sex marriages impossible in Romania.

Irina Marica, [email protected]