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Liechtenstein: Referendum Approves Act on Same-Sex Unions

(June 23, 2011) In a referendum held on June 19, 2011, Liechtenstein citizens indicated their support for a Civil Partnership Act (Partnerschaftsgesetz), with nearly 69% of voters in favor of the new law that grants members of same-sex unions the same tax, inheritance, and welfare benefit rights as the country's married couples. The Act had been unanimously approved by the Liechtenstein Parliament (the Landtag) on March 16, but Vox Populi, a group opposed to the new legislation, had called for the national referendum. (Maureen Cosgrove, Liechtenstein Voters Approve Civil Partnership Law(June 20, 2011); Wojtek Radwanski, Liechtenstein 'Yes' Vote for Civil Partnerships, AFP (June 20, 2011); 68,8 % Ja-Stimmen für Partnerschaftsgesetz, VOLKSBLATT (June 19, 2011).

Under article 66(1) of the Constitution of Liechtenstein, Vox Populi had 30 days (as of the date of the formal issuance of the Act, which was March 21) to collect the minimum 1,000 signatures needed for a referendum:

Every law passed by Parliament that it does not declare to be urgent and every financial resolution that it does not declare to be urgent and that results in a new nonrecurrent expenditure of at least 300,000 francs or a new annual expenditure of 150,000 francs shall be subject to a popular vote if Parliament so decides or if at least 1,000 Liechtenstein citizens eligible to vote or at least three municipalities submit a request to that effect, in the manner provided for in article 64, within 30 days of the official announcement of the resolution of Parliament. (Government Legal Services of the Principality of Liechtenstein, Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein (LR 101) (as of Feb. 1, 2009) [in English], Landesverwaltung Fürstentum Liechtenstein website (last visited June 21, 2011).)

Like the Swiss civil partnership law on which it is based, the new Act does not grant same sex couples the right of adoption. It also does not allow them access to reproductive medical services. (Radwinski, supra; Liechtenstein Voters Overwhelmingly Back Gay Partnership Law Challenged by Religious Groups, STARTRIBUNE (June 19, 2011).)