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Romania’s senators voted to change the country’s constitution so that it defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The national referendum will be held in October.
Romanians are set to vote in a referendum next month on whether they want to change their constitution so that it bans same-sex marriage by defining a family as a “consensual union between a man and a woman”.
Romania's senators voted 107-13 with seven abstentions on Tuesday, to approve a law that would pave the way to change the constitution, which currently states that marriage is a union between "spouses".
A senator for the ruling Social Democratic Party, Serban Nicolae, said the vote was on religious grounds: "We've been a Christian nation for 2,000 years".
The only political faction that has positioned itself against the referendum was the Save Romania Union, whose MPs voted against the bill in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. “This divisive referendum will solve none of Romania’s real problems. The only reason the PSD wants this referendum to be held is to distract attention from its ongoing attack on the independence of the justice system”, the party’s leader Dan Barna said.
A REFERENDUM IN OCTOBER
Under the 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.
Parliament must endorse such requests, which must then be approved in a nationwide referendum to be held within a month of its publication, with a minimum of nearly five million votes to come into force.
The ruling party has said that the referendum could be held as early as October 7, and the government is expected to set a date in the coming days.
The civil group Coalition for the Family has already started a campaign for the referendum, releasing a series of videos featuring teens and young people speaking in support of the traditional family.
THE MAJORITY OF ROMANIANS SUPPORT MARRIAGE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN
The Coalition for Family gathered three million people in 2016, who signed the Citizens’ Initiative, to express their desire to hold a referendum on amending the country’s Constitution wording about marriage.
Additionally, the lower chamber of Parliament passed the Bill in May 2017, with 232 votes in favor, 22 against and 13 abstentions.
Romania, along with Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia, do not recognise same-sex marriage or offer legal protection to same-sex couples.
In June, The European Court of Justice ruled that same-sex married couples have the same rights under EU freedom of residence legislation as heterosexual married couples, even if same-sex marriage is not allowed in the country.