Romania will hold a referendum on October 7 to decide whether or not the constitutional definition of a married couple should be changed from ‘two spouses’ to ‘a man and a woman’.
Senators voted 107 to 13 to allow the referendum to happen. The only party to vote against the referendum were Save Romania Union (USR), with their leaders accusing the ruling Social Democratic party of opportunism.
The move was sparked in 2016 when an extreme right-wing group called Family Coalition started a petition to have the definition changed in the constitution, which then gained over three million signatures. The coalition also notoriously oppose abortion, divorce, contraception, artificial insemination, sex education, and vaccinations. Concerns are now rising that Family Coalition will now begin to push for further change and attempt to restrict women’s rights in Romania.
A senator for the ruling Social Democratic party justified the vote, saying: “We’ve been a Christian nation for 2,000 years.”
A lawyer for the Romanian LGBT+ activist group Accept, Iustina Ionescu, condemned the vote, saying: “The campaign will be one of state-sponsored hatred towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, as well as single-parent families.”
Attitudes to homosexuality in Romania have been harsh, with homosexuality only being decriminalised in 2002. The county currently offers no legal protection to same-sex couples, along with Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Poland, but this upcoming referendum will not rule out civil partnerships between same-sex couples.
Some opponents to the referendum are planning on boycotting it in hopes that the low voter turnout will render it invalid.
The European Court of Justice ruled earlier this year that Romania has to recognise same-sex residency rights. It was ruled that residency had to be granted to the American husband of a Romanian man.
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