Election officials reported that only 20.41% of eligible voters turned out to cast their vote in a controversial Romanian referendum, which would have put a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Romania if it had passed.
The ban would have been introduced into the constitution by redefining marriage as a union strictly between a man and a woman, rather than a union of two spouses, which is what it is currently referred to as in the Romanian constitution. This news comes despite the ruling Social Democratic Party decided to hold the referendum over two days to ensure a high turnout and a valid result. The referendum would have required a turnout of at least 30% for it to be valid.
Romanian LGBT+ group Accept praised the low turnout, saying it showed that citizens “want a Romania based upon democratic values.”
The group said in a statement, “We have shown that we cannot be fooled by a political agenda that urges us to hate and polarize society.”
The referendum was pushed forward by The Coalition of Families, a group notoriously known for their far-right and oppressive values.
The overall turnout was announced late on Sunday shortly after the group conceded defeat.
“Next time, we’ll succeed,” said spokesman Mihai Gheorghiu. “Let’s be happy for this day. The Christian vote exists.”
Although the referendum has been criticized by human rights groups as “state-sponsored hatred towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, as well as single-parent families,” The Coalition of Families claimed that the low turnout and boycotting of the referendum was “primarily directed against the Christians of Romania.”
Last week, the Human Rights Watch dubbed the referendum as “little more than a thinly veiled attempt to scapegoat a vulnerable minority.”
The referendum was announced after the Coalition of Families circulated a petition calling for it to be held, which gathered over three million signatures. Romanian senators also voted largely in favour of going ahead with the referendum, voting 107 to 13 in favour of it.
Although the turnout was too low for the referendum to be considered valid, Romania Insider reports that 91% of those who did vote voted in favour of changing the constitution.
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