Two women married in the Montenegrin coastal resort of Budva on Sunday, a year after same-sex marriage was legalized, making them the first wedded gay couple in the small Balkan country’s history.
Milijana Vukotic Jelusic, a municipal official, announced the historical moment to the Montenegrin daily newspaper Vijesti, saying, “We are glad that our municipality was able to be the first to apply the Law on Life Partnership, and we wish happiness and a lot of love to the partners in their life together,” according to Balkan Insight.
She added the couple is from abroad but of Montenegrin origins.
On July 3, 2020, Montenegro became the first non-European Union Balkan country to legalize gay marriage when President Milo Djukanovic enacted the “Law on the Same-Sex Life Partnership,” which had been voted through parliament with a majority two days earlier, according to an article from the Library of Congress.
The law passed with 42 votes in favor, a slim majority in the 81-seat parliament. Five voted against the law, but most lawmakers who opposed it abstained from voting in protest, with one saying the law was being imposed by “world Satanists,” according to the Bay Area Reporter.
The law stipulates that same-sex unions have most of the same rights as opposite-sex married couples, except for some rights, such as the ability to adopt children, according to the Library of Congress.
Dukanovic celebrated the passage of the law last year, saying on Twitter, “[Montenegro] is one step closer to joining the most developed world democracies! … A confirmation that our society is maturing, accepting and living the differences. Born free and equal in dignity and rights!”
The law was condemned by not only the main opposition bloc in parliament, Democratic Front, but also every ethnic minority party, including those representing Bosniaks, Albanians, and Croatians, according to Balkan Insight.
“The main goal of this law is to impose a new value system. After everything they took from us, now they want our families,” said Democratic Front leader Nebojsa Medojevic.
Montenegro is generally considered deeply socially conservative, with a largely Orthodox Christian population.
Despite the recent legalization of same-sex civil unions, studies show deep disapproval of LGBT acceptance among the populace. An in-depth 2019 study by professor Andrew Flores of the Williams Institute ranked 174 countries based on their acceptance of LGBT people on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being the least accepting.
Montenegro decreased from 4.5 in 2004-2008 to 3.6 in 2014-2017, being ranked as less accepting of LGBT than 108 countries, including Libya and Yemen.
A separate study commissioned by the Danish Institute for Human Rights a decade earlier — when LGBT acceptance was higher, according to the Williams Institute study — found that “71% of adult citizens of Montenegro consider homosexuality as an illness, and every second citizen agrees that homosexuality is very dangerous for society and that the state institutions should work to suppress it.”
Original Location: First same-sex couple marries in Montenegro one year after legalization