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Romanians to vote on the definition of marriage

Romanians to vote on the definition of marriage

Marchers at this year's Bucharest Pride.

Romanians will go to the polls to decide on the constitutional definition of marriage this weekend.

The two-day referendum will address whether marriage is between one man and one woman.

Supporters of the Yes campaign have touted the referendum as a chance to clarify the definition of “traditional” marriages.

But its opponents have said it risks blocking future campaigns for marriage equality in Romania.

The Yes campaign is widely predicted to win the vote.

While homosexuality was decriminalized in Romania in 2001, neither same-sex marriage nor civil unions are legal.

However, in late September the country’s top court ruled that same-sex couples should have the same basic legal rights as heterosexual couples.


Article 48 of Romania’s constitution states that a family ‘is founded on the freely consented marriage of the spouses’.

A Yes vote would change the wording to ‘marriage between a man and a woman’.

The change of phrasing will help give “traditional” marriages ‘another level of protection’, according to Mihai Gheorghiu, president of the pro-referendum Coalition for Family.

Gheorghiu said that the proposed constitutional change would have ‘no effect’ on same-sex couples in Romania.

The Romanian Orthodox Church also backs the Yes campaign.

The Chruch is highly influential in Romania, where around 85% of the population follow Orthodox Christianity.

However, those opposed to the change are hoping that a low turnout, below the required threshold of 30%, will invalidate the vote.

The country has had notoriously low-levels of voter turnout, with only 40% of the electorate voting in the 2016 election.

Attempts to block the vote

The marriage debate has been polarising in Romania over the last several months.

LGBTI rights and marriage equality campaigners have been unsuccessful in their attempts to stop the vote from going ahead.

The vote has alarmed some commentators, who believe this could indirectly feed homophobia and hinder attempts for equal rights for the LGBTI community in the future.

However, in June the European Court of Justice ruled that Romania must recognize same-sex marriages of its citizens which have been held abroad, A two-day immigration and residency rights.