Latvian Parliament bans discrimination of homosexual employees

  • 2006-09-22
  • By TBT staff
After lengthy deliberations the Latvian parliament has passed amendments to the labor law banning discrimination of employees on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

The draft amendments banning discrimination of gay and lesbian employees that will bring Latvia's legislation in line with an EU directive were passed with 46 votes against 35, with three abstentions.

Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga also had spoken about a necessity to pass the amendments. In June, the president sent the draft amendments to the parliament for repeated consideration.

In a letter to parliament speaker Ingrida Udre, the president underscored that the rights of an individual to work cannot be linked to his or her private life, which is protected by the Constitution.

Vike-Freiberga pointed out that Latvia had not objected to inclusion of the ban on this kind of discrimination in national laws during the pre-accession talks with the EU or transposition of the EU directives.

"Considering the above-mentioned, as well as the fact that the ban on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation would equally protect both individuals with conventional sexual orientation as well as homosexuals, I see a logical reason to state this kind of discrimination alongside the listed bans on discrimination based on race, color, gender, age, disability, religious, political or other belief, ethnic or social origin, financial or marital status," the president said in the letter to the parliament speaker.

Lawmakers from the Christian-oriented Latvia's First Party, nationalist alliance For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (TB/LNNK), the Greens and Farmers Union, leftist Harmony Center, as well as several independent MPs voted against the ban on discrimination on grounds of sexuality.

The bill was supported by MPs from the ruling People's Party, opposition center-right New Era party, as well as several MPs from the Harmony Center.