Concern over Slovakia’s gay marriage referendum


slovakia_to_vote_on_banning_same_sex_marriageThere are fears that a referendum on same-sex marriage in Slovakia is designed to ban gay marriage rights in the largely Catholic central European nation.

On Tuesday, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that Slovakians can be asked to effectively vote on limiting the rights of LGBT people.

The court said that three out of four proposed questions would be allowed to be included in the referendum.

Slovakians will be asked if they agree on the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, if the adoption of children by “same-sex couples or groups” should be banned and, if parents can opt-out of their children receiving sexuality education information they do not approve of.

A question that could have led to outlawing any future same-sex registered partnerships was deemed unconstitutional.

The referendum was initiated by conservative groups, and supported by an American far-right evangelical organisation Alliance Defending Freedom. They presented a petition to the government with 400 000 signatures calling for the vote.

President Andrej Kiska announced that the referendum will take place on 7 February 2015.

The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights expressed concern about the referendum, noting that similar votes had been used to strip LGBT people of their rights in countries such as the US.

“I do not understand how the Constitutional Court ruled that these questions are in line with the Slovak Constitution, which specifically forbids referenda on issues of fundamental rights and liberties,” commented Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup-designate Daniele Viotti.

“I hope that the sensible majority will stand up for the rights of minorities, and that the referendum will be rejected in the end.”

Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup-designate Sophie in ‘t Veld, added: “This debate is not about Slovakia, but about EU’s fundamental rights, tolerance and equality. We may not turn a blind eye to religious organisations fuelling intolerance towards our very own EU citizens.”

“Slovakia is on a slippery slope. I urge the Slovak people to stand up for the rights of their compatriots,” she said.

A 2012 poll found that 47 percent of Slovaks support registered partnerships, with the proviso of “without the possibility of adoption.” Fifty-two percent said that they were opposed to same-sex couples attending family gatherings.

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