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Slovenia's top court strikes out bans on same-sex couples marrying and adopting children

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By AP
Women kiss as they take part in the Ljubljana Pride Parade in Ljubljana, on June 17, 2017.
Women kiss as they take part in the Ljubljana Pride Parade in Ljubljana, on June 17, 2017.   -   Copyright  Jure MAKOVEC / AFP

A top court in Slovenia ruled that bans on same-sex couples getting marrying and adopting children are unconstitutional in the small European country and ordered its parliament to amend the law within six months to guarantee they can.

Constitutional Court judges ruled 6-3 on both issues Friday, saying that Slovenia's laws allowing only opposite-sex marriages and adoptions violated a constitutional prohibition against discrimination.

Discrimination against same-sex couples “cannot be justified with the traditional meaning of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, nor with special protection of family,” according to the ruling carried by the Slovenian Press Agency.

The ruling, which the court said has immediate effect, breaks ground for LGBTQ rights in Central and Eastern Europe, where several countries have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage and none before now has allowed couples of the same sex to wed.

The government of Estonia came the closest in 2016 by agreeing to recognize same-sex unions created in other countries. Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Montenegro have laws establishing same-sex civil partnerships.

The court decision in Slovenia, which was a Socialist republic under communist rule as part of the former Yugoslavia before it became an independent country in 1991, came just weeks after a liberal national government took office, replacing one led by right-wing conservatives.

While the court gave the legislators six months to amend existing laws to conform with the ruling, the required changes would be ready in a week or two, Luka Mesec, the minister of labor, family, social affairs and equal opportunities, said.

“The Constitutional Court has ordered us to do it, and we will do it with the greatest pleasure,” Mesec said.

The court took up the issue following complaints by two same-sex couples who could not get married or qualify to adopt children.

The decision “does not diminish the importance of traditional marriage as a union of a man and a woman, nor does it change conditions under which persons of the opposite sex marry," the judges said. "All it means is that same-sex partners can now marry just like heterosexual partners can.”