Same-sex marriage could forever be in jeopardy in Romania after the senate overwhelmingly voted to allow a referendum which could change the eastern European countries Constitution.
The proposed referendum would ask Romanians whether they approved of changing the definition of unions in the Constitution. Currently, the Constitution defines unions as between the gender neutral ‘spouses’.
But a petition signed by three million people wants unions defined as between ‘a man and a woman’. If the Constitution changes to say that, it would make it almost impossible to make same-sex marriage legal in Romania.
On Tuesday the senate voted 107-13 in favor of the referendum, after the Lower House voted to approve the referendum at the end of last year.
The Coalition for Family civil groups started the petition in 2016 and got three million Romanians to sign it.
Romania’s government now has to set a date for the referendum, saying it could happen as early as 7 October.
Many LGBTI groups are trying to fight the proposed referendum, labelling it ‘completely immoral’.
Vlad Viski heads the LGBTI community group MozaiQ. He accused politicians of being ‘cowards’ for giving in to ‘conservative forces trying to marginalize the LGBT community in Romania’.
‘We will recommend our followers not to cast their vote in the upcoming referendum because human rights cannot be subject to a popular vote,’ he said.
Viski warned that if the Constitution changed it would ‘gravely’ affect democracy in Romania.
‘It will put into question the rights of all citizens,’ Viski said.
‘At the same time we will not give in to being humiliated by politicians and we will fight for our rights until the end. We urge everyone in Europe to express solidarity with the LGBT community in Romania and spread our message.’
The senate’s vote came less than two months after Romania’s Constitutional Court (RCC) rule to recognize same-sex couples.
Married couple, Adrian Coman and Clai Hamilton married in Belgium in 2010. They wanted to move to Coman’s native Romania because the country didn’t recognize same-sex relationships.
The couple took their case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and in June it ruled European Union countries could not obstruct the freedom of EU residents by refusing to grant residence rights to their non-EU same-sex partner.
But in its ruling, the Constitutional Court made it clear its decision applied only to married same-sex couples.
‘We have recognized [it] in the spirit of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union,’ said RCC president, Valer Dorneanu.