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In the European Union many people are being discriminated and harassed on a daily basis due to their sexual orientation. As of today around fourteen European countries have allowed same sex marriages while others allow civil partnership, or have made same sex marriages illegal. In many European countries there has even been a long fighting battle of legalization of the right to have same sex marriages. Within this battle there are many advantages and disadvantages to marriages of all kinds. One thing a few people may notice is that many of the countries opposing to these marriages are catholic based and are part of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, a few of these European countries have ruled above these arbitrary laws and decided to place the bill letting many people express who they are by allowing them the right to marry whomever they please no matter the sex of the other person. The main countries that have the main hand in this debate, in Europe, are Germany, Russia, Poland, and the U.K. Each of these countries have their own opinions on the matter at hand and each deal with it in their own ways. In Poland and Russia same sex marriages are banned and illegal making it hard for people to express who they really are with the strict homophobic laws placed in these countries. Whereas, in Germany and in the United Kingdom same sex marriages are sought out to be a good thing and a way to express people’s feelings without judgment. However throughout each of these countries many people still have their own points of view whether it is good or not. This essay will be focused on the issue of legalization of same sex marriage in the European Union.
On 1 October, 2017 Germany became the 14th country in the European Union to allow same sex marriage. Ever since 2001, Germany has let same sex couples enter register partnership (civil partnership), but these partnerships came a loophole that did not give same sex partners the same rights in German law as to marriage. However, in June of 2017 the German parliament voted to introduce marriage equality after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her long standing opposition. Merkel has been known to personally vote against marriage equality saying “For me, marriage in German law is marriage between a man and a woman and that is why I did not vote in favour of this bill today.” Even with Merkel’s vote to oppose the act, the bill went through with a vote of 393 to 226, making it legal for Germany citizens to get married not matter their sexuality, making a huge difference in the country. However there are still many negative attitudes towards the bill, with many people saying they felt uncomfortable seeing men or women showing affection in public. Many have even said that the whole idea of a same sex relationship was “unnatural”. Around 39 percent of people have said they would feel uncomfortable with having a lesbian daughter and 40 percent felt the same way about having a gay son, and around 27 percent believe that in school they should just cover heterosexual relationships in sex education. Even though many people have said they have felt uncomfortable with the new bill allowing marriage equality, it does not strain for the fact that many, many people believe that Germany has turn over a new leaf and believe that love is winning in Germany today.
Russia is a big believer in making same sex marriages illegal in their country and is one of the most criticized in the union. They are sought out to be one of the most homophobic countries making it hard for minors to express who they really are when the whole country sees being gay as a bad thing. In 2013, distribution among minors in support of “non-traditional” sexual relationships were criminalized. Even the head of Russia’s orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, compared same sex marriage to Nazism. Kirill has said many things along the lines of homo-sexual relations threatening family values, and that marriage equality was a form of Soviet totalitarianism, making this a threat to humanity. There have also been claims saying that Russia has been finding a cure for homosexuality. Psychotherapist, Yan Goland, has been treating people, telling the BBC, “…I show them similar cases: how they were and how they are now. The patient is filled with hope that we can help, and understands they need to be treated…”, the treatment that the patients go through can take up to eight to 18 months. The treatments are three steps, that are said to extinguish the attraction to the opposite sex, to the “cure” the patients and make them “normal”. As of today marriage equality is still not seen in the future for Russia. With people like Vladimir Putin saying he would, in a way, destroy marriage equality does not make it seems as though the matter is at hand, and no one anytime soon will see anything about marriage equality in Russia.
Poland is another country, such as Russia, that has not legalized same sex marriage. In Poland they take it a few steps to far by refusing to even print pro-LGBT banners. In the article “Gay Rights Face Backlash in Poland” by Andrew Rettman, it mention how many anti-gay protesters are smashing the windows of the Polish gay-rights groups (which include NGO and KPH in Warsaw). When these attacks happened the police put up guards to protect them from the attacks but as soon as they left, KPH suffered a few more attacks, but in addition to these attacks it showed that anti-gay backlash in the Polish community is becoming more hardcore every day. In the article they quoted Agata Chaber, to which they said, “We have a general trend in society that’s more and more pro LGBT rights, but then we have a minority that is against that is becoming more radical…”, it is said to be that radicals tend to be white straight men that link back to neo-Nazi groups. The leaders of the Polish Catholic Church had made many statements on his opinion of marriage equality as well as homosexuality. The leaders have been known to brutally attacked a state broadcasting station for airing a half a minute program defending homosexuality. Some groups, who are affected by the issue, have said, “LGBT people are excluded from the church, although many believe in God and wish to practice and nurture their faith. Holy Masses and meditations for homosexuals are conducted secretly and in hiding, and few priests have any feeling for them…”. With many bishops ignoring the recognition of homosexuality as a general orientation and only see i as something of a sin, the Polish bishops will now have to take caution when talking about the topic. In Poland they are seeing many attacks on the LGBT organizations getting more violent but no one from the government is speaking out to try to stop these hate crimes against these organization groups. With the Polish government seeing their country belonging to a white, gendered, catholic persona, they also tend to see gay people as a threat to the Polish identity. However with the vote of marriage equality being legalized in Germany, many Poles have found it “shameful” that their country is lagging behind.
The United Kingdom has a huge part in same sex marriages as they have struggled to pass the marriage act for ages and just recently passed the bill to legalize same sex marriages in 2014. For the past 50 years the UK went through trial and error and still in this century (21st) the country still faces backlash and as of today criminalization of gay people still continue and homophobic hate crimes have risen. However with the marriage equality act in motion, it caters to many of the issues that needed to be addressed and what rights same sex partners have. The act states that same sex couples are allowed to marry in civil ceremonies, in religious ceremonies but, the religious ceremony must be opted in to conduct the ceremony and a minister must agree. As to the marriage equality act being passed, Women and Equalities Minister speaker Maria Miller said, “Marriage is the bedrock of our society and now irrespective of sexuality everyone in British society can make that commitment. It is a wonderful achievement and whilst this legislation may be about marriage, its impact is so much wider. Making marriage available to all couples demonstrates our society’s respect for all individuals… It demonstrates the importance we attach to being able to live freely… This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives.” With today’s new changes on the marriage equality act we see a significant difference on everyone’s life whether it is good or bad. In times like this, when the European union is significantly drifting apart, the court will have to divide the union if it decides to step forward and redefine the marriage and family law for all members of the Union. Many of the countries in the union already address marriage as a union between man and woman in their constitutions and laws. The members of the union do have their own free will to state that both a mother and father are essential to a child’s life. However, if the European Union decides to change the meaning of “spouse” for all 28 countries in the union, then there are no other reasons as to why they cannot change the conditions of marriage in the near future.
To conclude this essay, same-sex marriages or marriage equality should be legalized within the European Union as there really is nothing wrong with it. In Poland and Russia they see same-sex marriages and even couples as a bad thing because these couples are not traditional couples of man and woman, but also they see this as threat and shame to their country and they are taking away people’s rights because it is not natural and they do not see the use of change. In these two countries, many people have had to hide their true feelings just so they would not be harassed in the streets for being who they are. In Germany and the United Kingdom, marriage equality has been legalized for some time now, but they still face backlash today just from those who are not ready for that type of change. All in all, the legalization of marriage equality is a very important topic of debate in the European Union because many people are not open to that type of change in their country, even though it would not change anything at all really because marriage equality is just giving everyone the right to marry whoever they want no matter the person’s gender.
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