Less than 30% of citizens in Romania have taken part in a referendum to redefine marriage. This means the referendum is nullified – to the joy of local LGBTI advocates
Romania doesn’t have equal marriage or same-sex civil unions. Conservatives and religious groups wanted the country’s constitution changed to ensure same-sex marriage never becomes legal. They wanted the constitution to state Romania only recognizes marriage between men and women. It currently recognizes marriage as being between ‘spouses’.
Many of Romania’s neighboring countries, such as Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary, have constitutional legislation which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.
These groups raised a petition in 2016 forcing the country to hold a referendum. It gained over 3million signatures.
The referendum took place in Romania yesterday and today. However, after polls closed this evening, it became apparent that less than 30% of the population voted. Approximately 21% of registered voters went to the polls.
Local LGBTI groups had pushed for people to boycott the vote. They knew if people didn’t turn out to vote, the constitution will remain unchanged.
Love not hate
‘Today we have shown that we can not be fooled by a political agenda that urges us to hate and polarize society, we have shown that most of us believe that human rights are not to be voted at a referendum,’ said a spokesperson for local LGBTI rights group Accept.
‘The electorate once again affirmed its attachment to the European path of our country and to our common values, based on the dignity of every human being, regardless of their sexual orientation.’
‘The community of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is part of the country’s population, and it contains many families, who, at this time, are lacking legal recognition and judicial protection. It is time for the Romanian state, through its competent authorities, to ensure equal rights and obligations for same-sex couples,’ said Florin Buhuceanu, president of the ACCEPT Association.
Vlad Viski, executive director another Romanian LGBTI group, MozaiQ, called it a ‘huge victory after three years of fighting against conservative voices, against hate speech.
‘Seventeen years after the 2001 decriminalization of homosexuality, we see that Romanian society is changing for the best. We have gained thousands of allies throughout this fight for equal rights and now we are asking major political parties to show responsibility and legalize civil unions as soon as possible.
‘We deserve rights, we want rights, we won’t stop.’
‘Anti-family to its very core’
Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, also welcomed the news. She said redefining ‘family’ to only include those family groups headed by married, opposite-sex couples, impacted many. It excludes single parents and grandparents who raise grandchildren, too.
‘This proposed definition was always anti-family to its very core. How can excluding generations of children, their parents, siblings or other family members from recognition in the eyes of the state possibly be “pro-family”?’