According to Moran, Abramson & Moran, (2014) “the European Union is the key mechanism for furthering free enterprise and democracy, as well as the preservation of human rights while respecting diversity among all its inhabitants”(p496). Interestingly of the 28 member countries in Eastern and Western Europe, as of July 2017, only 15 countries recognized same-sex marriage. Not surprisingly all are in Western Europe, Germany being the latest. “None of the Central and Eastern European countries allow gay marriage and the Pew survey of 18 countries in the region found that public opinion is broadly opposed to the practice” (Lipka, 2017).
“A clear east-west divide regarding gay marriage has materialized in Europe in recent years” (Washington Post, 2015) as one of Eastern Europe’s most liberal countries, Slovenia rejected gay rights. The question to be asked is why if the EU wants to further democracy, enterprise, human rights and respecting diversity is there such a divide between East and Western member states on this issues. Some cite “many jurisdictions in Central and Eastern Europe have become increasingly nationalistic and conservative and have placed constitutional protections which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman” (Stewart, 2016).
Perhaps these positions are best explained through religion, culture, genetics, social psychology and politics of the region. Many of the Eastern European countries that are members of the EU used to be part of the former Soviet Union. Since “culture can’t be measured directly, it has to be measured by measuring individual people’s ideas, beliefs and values. This is why there are certain universals particularly among a given culture. If Eastern Europe and Russia have shared genetic history, they are likely to have similar personalities on the individual level and a shared culture at the group level” (PSU.OLEAD 410.L13).
These countries are greatly affected by its prior union with Russia and communism. “Communism is more than simply a government style. There are values associated with that type of rule that are transmitted to the population” (PSU.OLEAD 410.L13). Since one of the goals of inclusion in the EU is to combat social exclusion and discrimination and the common values shared by member countries of inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination prevail, (Europa, n.d.) one wonders why the Eastern European members haven’t progressed to the point of recognizing and legalizing same-sex marriage. Progress is slow on this topic but hopefully in time all member countries will shift their cultural perspectives and will permit same-sex marriage.
Lipka, M. (June 30, 2017). Where Europe stands on gay marriage and civil unions. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/30/where-europe-stands-on-gay-marriage-and-civil-unions/
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences: Leadership skills and strategies for working in a global world. New York: Elsevier.
Noack, R. (December 21, 2015). One of Eastern Europe’s most liberal countries just rejected gay marriage. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/12/21/one-of-eastern-europes-most-liberal-countries-just-rejected-gay-marriage/?utm_term=.89c5a00d3910
Penn State World Campus (n.d.). Lesson 13: Eastern Europe and Russia. Retrieved from lecture notes online
Stewart, J. & Llyod, K. (April 28, 2016). Marriage equality in Europe. Retrieved from https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=292dab08-ce15-4f39-a084-78b77ce72b31
The European Union. (n.d.). The EU in brief. Retrieved from https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/eu-in-brief_en