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(Berlin) – The Luxembourg House of Representatives, in approving a bill on June 18, 2014, to legalize same-sex marriage, has moved to guarantee marriage equality and diminish discrimination based on sexual orientation, Human Rights Watch said today. The vote was 56 to 4. Luxembourg is the seventeenth country to pass legislation providing for the right to same-sex marriage in its national laws.

“This is a happy day for Luxembourg and for those who favor equal rights for all, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights program at Human Rights Watch. “The law will enable gays and lesbians in Luxembourg to marry the person they love and will strengthen the fundamental rights of everyone in Luxembourg to equality and non-discrimination.”

Following the formation of a political coalition after the 2013 parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel publicly announced that his government would introduce legislation guaranteeing the right to marriage equality and adoption by same-sex couples. In a meeting with Human Rights Watch on June 10, Prime Minister Bettel said that Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Luxembourg had not publicly opposed the draft legislation and had not engaged in a public campaign to mobilize opinion against its adoption.

The archbishop’s position to refrain from a campaign against marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in Luxembourg starkly contrasts with the vehement opposition of local Roman Catholic authorities in France to marriage equality law being debated in Parliament in 2013.

Dittrich, a former member of the Dutch Parliament, initiated the debate on marriage equality in the Dutch Parliament in 1994. After heated debates in parliament and in society at large, the Netherlands implemented same-sex marriage legislation in 2001, becoming the first country in the world to provide for marriage equality.

Other countries have followed suit. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, as well as in parts of Mexico, and in  19 states in the United States (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington and the District of Columbia).

“The decision to approve marriage equality in Luxembourg is a pivotal moment amid international efforts to guarantee the rights of LGBT people worldwide,” Dittrich said. “We look forward to other European countries also moving quickly to ensure marriage equality, including Ireland, which will hopefully endorse the right for same sex couples to marry in a 2015 constitutional referendum.”

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