Europarliament Favors Rights for Homosexual Couples

STRASBOURG, France, FEB. 12, 2003 ( The European Parliament decided to recognize de facto couples, including homosexuals, as it does married couples.

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By a 269-225 vote on Tuesday the assembly adopted a document to simplify procedures for the free movement of citizens among the European Union countries, which included three amendments on the recognition of the rights of homosexual couples.

The document says the term «family» should be applied «regardless of sex» to a «lasting relationship, without the existence of marriage,» although it clarifies that national legislations must be respected.

The initiative was supported by the European Socialist Party, the Greens, the Communists and part of the European Liberal Democratic Reform Party, and was opposed by the European Popular Party and the Euro-Right.

The document is a Community directive that must now be examined by the governments of the European Union. Once the governments have studied it — and experts say it could be modified considerably — it will face a second reading in the Parliament.

The Netherlands and Belgium are the only EU countries which have granted homosexuals recognition similar to that of married couples. In countries such as France and Sweden, «pacts» and records have been established to regularize some situations connected with de facto couples.

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