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Czech Happenings
Klaus rejects PM's call in support of homosexual partnership
Czech Republic
PRAGUE- President Vaclav Klaus rejects the appeal of PM Jiri Paroubek (Social Democrats CSSD), who asked Klaus to sign the bill on registered partnership of homosexuals into law, Klaus said in a statement released to CTK by his spokesman Petr Hajek today.

Klaus said that the bill has nothing to do with the freedom of minorities, which Paroubek mentioned. The bill is "an attempt to legalise the disintegration of traditional institutions on which the society is based," said Klaus.

At the same time, Klaus said that Paroubek should not patronise him in terms of freedom.

"The prime minister has no mandate to teach me and our country's citizens what freedom means. By his letter, Paroubek only wants to drag me into his election campaign, which I categorically reject," Klaus said in his statement.

According to Klaus, Paroubek is attempting to make an illusion that the debate about registered partnership is about freedom and its limitation.

"This bill has nothing to do with freedom," said Klaus, adding he would answer Paroubek's letter after he returns home from the Winter Olympics in Turin.

Paroubek said in his letter sent to Klaus on Friday that the aim of the homosexual partnership bill is not to create an institution similar to marriage, but to provide the necessary legal background for a permanent cohabitation of registered partners and for the settlement of their relations.

However, Klaus objected earlier that the bill would unfoundedly help homosexuals gain certain privileges.

Not only Paroubek, but also opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy chairman and Prague Mayor Pavel Bem called on Klaus, ODS honorary chairman, to sign the bill on registered partnership. MEP and ODS shadow foreign minister Jan
Zahradil, too, is opposed to Klaus's opinions about the bill.

After long disputes, the bill on registered partnership was passed by both houses of parliament. If Klaus returned it the Chamber of Deputies for reappraisal, it would need support from at least 101 of the house's 200 deputies to override Klaus's veto. It will not be easy to win such support.

In December, the bill was passed by 86 out of the 147 deputies present. Most of the ODS MPs and all junior ruling Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) voted against the bill, while a crushing majority of the Social Democrats, the Freedom Union (US- DEU) deputies and most of the Communists (KSCM) supported the bill.