- 中央ロー・ジャーナル (ISSN:13496239)
- vol.15, no.4, pp.3-20, 2019-03-31
According to present Serbian law, a marriage is made between woman and man. Neither same-sex marriages nor legalized same-sex couples (civil unions or registered partnerships) are recognized. The drafting of the new Civil Code, which has taken more than ten years. does not propose legalizing them either. Among the countries that constituted the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia and Croatia have recognized same-sex couples. Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia, Herzegovina have not. The countries enjoyed wide autonomy in making family law during the existence of the former Yugoslavia, and they maintained different family laws at that time too. Neighboring ex-socialist countries also have different stances. Hungary and Czech accept same-sex couples; Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia do not. What causes the difference in approaches? One possibility is that the more principles of modern society a country accepts, the more tolerance it has toward sexual minorities. For example, western countries as France, Germany, and England—located in the very center of modern law and society—legally recognize both same-sex couples and same-sex marriages. Let us divide European countries into three groups: western, central, and eastern. The western group recognizes same-sex marriage; the central one accepts same-sex couples but does not recognize same-sex marriage; the eastern group recognizes neither. This classification, while useful, is not perfect. For example, Italy—which is located in the western group geographically, historically, and culturally—recognizes only same-sex couples, not same-sex marriage. Poland, which would seem to belong to the central group, does not accept either. Modern elements, therefore, are not sufficient to clarify the situation. Religion is another factor. The deviation of Italy and Poland can be understood in this perspective. The power of the Catholic Church is very strong there. Religion exercises the biggest influence in the eastern group and the smallest in western one. Modern law has the biggest effect in the west, the smallest in the east. Though this is a rough sketch, it is helpful in understanding the strong homophobia in Russia, which is located very far from the birthplace of modern law and in which the impact of the Orthodox Church has been enormous since the collapse of communism. Like Russia, Serbia belongs to the eastern group. Its geographic and historical situation, however, is different. Serbia enacted a civil code as early as in 1844, and it remained in force till 1945, more than hundred years. The Code was under a decisive effect of ABGB and Code Civil, completely distinct from the Russian “Свод Законов Российской Империи” of 1832, which, according to its drafter Сперанский, was only slightly influenced by Roman law. This means that Serbia has a long history of accepting modern civil law. It could be a reason to expect Serbia to have a plan to legalize same-sex couples in the near future. Other reasons are the country’s desire to join the EU as soon as possible and pressure—both external and internal—to follow precedents of the European Court of Human Rights. That court has clearly declared that refusing to legalize same-sex relationships violates the European Convention on Human Rights. These circumstances will inevitably lead Serbia to change its position from the eastern to the central group.