Lawmakers in Montenegro have legalized same-sex civil partnerships, making Montenegro the first country in the Balkans to offer such recognition.

The new bill – approved by a narrow margin of lawmakers – gives gay and lesbian couples the same rights as heterosexual couples except for child adoption and fostering.

John Barac, executive director of LGBT Forum Progress, said that he was in shock.

“I honestly didn't think it would and I still can't come to my senses that this happened in Montenegro,” Barac tweeted.

The Serbian Orthodox Church strongly objected to the bill. The church's opposition played a key role in defeat of similar bills in 2014 and 2019.

According to EuroNews, Montenegro hopes that the move will shore up its application to the European Union.

“There can be no room for discrimination based on sexual orientation in a European Montenegro,” tweeted Prime Minister Dusko Markovic.

The Constitution of Montenegro defines marriage as a heterosexual union and there is widespread opposition to LGBT rights.

BalkanInsight noted in reporting the bill's passage that 71 percent of Montenegrins consider homosexuality an “illness” and 50 percent called it a danger to society that should be suppressed by the state.