Romanian senators have voted in favour of holding a referendum to include a ban on same-sex marriage in the constitution.
According to the text adopted by the senators, which would be enshrined in the constitution in the event of a yes vote, marriage represents “the union between a man and a woman” and not “between spouses”, as it is currently defined in Romanian law.
Same-sex marriage is illegal in Romania but, according to the opponents of the initiative, an explicit prohibition in the Constitution would make it difficult, if not impossible, to make any future change to the law in favour of homosexual couples.
A total of 107 senators from the governing PSD and its coalition partner, ALDE, as well as the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Hungarian Union (UDMR) voted in favour of the initiative, while the deputies from the Save Romania Union (USR) voted against it.
The consultation, the principle of which has already been approved by the lower house of Parliament, could take place on 7 October. It follows a “citizens’ initiative” from several associations close to the powerful Orthodox Church who claim to have collected three million signatures in support of the referendum.
The European Court of Human Rights, in a landmark judgment in 2015, called on states to introduce a form of civil partnership for homosexual couples.
Today, half of the 28 member countries of the European Union recognise same-sex marriage, while eight others allow civil unions of same-sex couples.
Romania, a member of the European Union since 2007, only decriminalised homosexuality in the early 2000s, while sexual minorities continue to be discriminated against.
Under Romanian law, the constitution can be changed after a proposal by the president, the government, a quarter of all lawmakers or at least 500,000 citizens, writes Reuters.
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea said that he will cast his vote in favour of the ban, calling the the referendum “a crucial moment for the fundamental values of Romanian society.”