Serbia Is About to Say YES to Same-Sex Unions

Serbia Is About to Say YES to Same-Sex Unions

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The adoption of the Law on Same-Sex Unions is expected soon in Serbia and it will, for the first time, regulate the existence and legal consequences of partnership between same-sex persons. Such persons will now be enabled to exercise certain rights that are guaranteed by positive legislation only to spouses and partners in extramarital unions, such as acquisition of joint property, inheritance, right to pension, hospital visits etc.

Based on the restrictions contained in the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, the legislator placed the rules on same-sex unions in a separate regulation and not in the Family Law that regulates marriage and extramarital union between different-sex persons. However, alike the difference between marriage and extramarital union, the proposal for the law differentiates between registered and unregistered same-sex unions and generally copies the legal regime applied to spouses and partners in extramarital unions:

  • Registered same-sex union is a union of family life between two persons of same sex that is concluded before competent public authority (registrar) in accordance with the provisions of the law.
  • Unregistered same-sex union is a union of family life between two persons of same sex who have not concluded same-sex union before the competent authority and where there are no obstacles for entry into same-sex union as stipulated by law.

Property relations

The proposal of the law practically equalizes the partners in same-sex unions regarding rights and liabilities that are envisaged for spouses under applicable regulations, which means that in this case there are also have a difference between separate and joint property of partners in same-sex unions.

It is also prescribed that partners, during same-sex union or before the conclusion of such union, may regulate their property relations regarding current or future property by an agreement on partners’ property, alike the marital agreement. If such agreement refers to real estate it is entered into the public registry of rights to real estate (real estate cadaster).

Rights in case of partner’s illness

The draft of the law stipulates that in case of one partner’s illness, the other partner shall be entitled to:

  • notification about their illness and health state, course of treatment and other facts relating to health state,
  • participate in decision-making process regarding the selection of medical treatment,
  • other rights that apply to spouses on basis of appropriate application of the law that regulates health protection and protection of patients’ rights.

It is also defined that, for the purpose of protecting the interests and welfare of partner who is not capable of giving consent to the proposed medical treatment as regulated by special legal provisions, same-sex partners shall have equal rights and liabilities as spouses.

In addition, a partner in same-sex union who is being treated in a hospital shall be entitled to equal visiting rights by their partners as spouses have, in accordance with the law stipulating the terms of hospital treatment. 

Right to inheritance

If this law is adopted, the matters relating to inheritance of partners in same-sex union shall be subject to the Law on Inheritance, while the partner in same-sex union shall be equalized with spouses in terms of inheritance rights, when it comes to the legal order of inheritance.

This means that they will be in the first order of inheritance (if the decedent has children) or in the second order of inheritance with the decedent’s parents (if the decedent has no children).

Right to pension

The proposal of the law stipulates that, in case of death of the insured person or pension beneficiary, a partner in same-sex union and the child supported by the partner in same-sex union shall be considered as the former’s family members, in addition to the persons stipulated in provisions regulating pension insurance. 

In this manner, the partners in same-sex unions would also be entitled to family pension in accordance with the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance.

Other rights and freedoms

The law proposal stipulates that same-sex union shall be equalized with marital union with regard to recognition of other rights and freedoms assigned to spouses, particularly with regard to the rights from employment, use of public services, stay in the territory of the Republic of Serbia by a partner who is foreign national, recognition of same-sex unions registered i.e. concluded abroad, international protection and acquisition of citizenship.

This article is to be considered as exclusively informative, with no intention to provide legal advice. If you should need additional information, please contact us directly.

By Jovana Milic, Senior Associate, PR Legal