LGBT refugees living in Kenya stand behind a rainbow flag as they protest against their treatment by authorities, outside an office of the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Nairobi on May 17, 2019.
Zenith Bank BetaLife
Zenith Bank BetaLife
Zenith Bank BetaLife
Zenith Bank BetaLife

Montenegro legalised same-sex civil partnerships in a move welcomed Thursday by LGBT groups as a “big step” although adoption still remains out of reach.

The law was adopted late Wednesday a year after it was initially voted down.

“A big step was made towards equality, but the path towards real equality is still ahead of us,” said Jovan Ulicevic, head of Spektra association for transgender rights.

“We continue to fight until everyone in the society will be respected,” Ulicevic told AFP.

Montenegro, which aspires to join the European Union, remains divided over the issue of gay rights.

Tolerance has increased in recent years but there is still a strong strain of machismo and social conservatism in the tiny country of 650,000 people.

Seventy percent of Montenegrins considered homosexuality a disease when the first Gay Pride march was held in 2013 — an event marred by clashes with hooligans.

But more recent surveys have shown that nearly half the population believes that the rights of the LGBT community are not fully respected.

However, public expression of affection among same-sex couples is still not widely tolerated, according to surveys.

On Twitter, President Milo Djukanovic, whose ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) backed the law, said Montenegro was taking “one step closer to joining the most developed world democracies!”.

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