A referendum asking voters to exclude same-sex couples from the definition of family in Romania’s Constitution has been a failure.
According to media reports, the turnout for the poll was below the required 30% target. This means that the result of the referendum will be discarded.
The referendum asked Romanians whether the constitution should be amended to specifically define marriage as only being possible between a man and a woman. It is currently defined as being between “spouses”.
The amendment was backed by the powerful Orthodox Church and a coalition of conservative NGOs who claimed that the change was needed to protect so-called “family values”
Human rights groups had urged voters to boycott the poll by staying at home, a call that appears to have been heard by most Romanians.
“This proposed definition was always anti-family to its very core,” said Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director. “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’?”
The outcome, sadly, will make little immediate difference to same-sex couples in the country as same-sex marriage and civil partnerships are already illegal. However, if the proposed constitutional amendment had been successful it would have made it much more difficult to change the status quo.
Romanian LGBTQ rights group, the Accept Association, welcomed the outcome of the referendum and said it was a victory against hatred.
“Today we have shown that we can not be fooled by a political agenda that urges us to hate and polarise society, we have shown that most of us believe that human rights are not to be voted [on] at a referendum,” said the organisation in a statement.
“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.”
Florin Buhuceanu, president of the association, added: “It is time for the Romanian state, through its competent authorities, to ensure equal rights and obligations for same-sex couples.”
According to ILGA-Europe, Romania has one of the poorest rankings when it comes to LGBTQ equality in Europe.
In June, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered the Romanian authorities to allow an American man to live in the country with his Romanian husband as his spouse, despite their marriage not being recognised by the state.