Romanian voters go to the ballots on 6 and 7 October in a referendum to redefine family in the Constitution.
The leftist government in Bucharest has issued an emergency order to
establish that a referendum to redefine family in the Constitution would be
held over the course of two days, on the 6th and 7th of
October. Romanian voters are expected to say whether they agree or not to the
revision of a law stating that the family is based on the marriage between a
man and a woman, rather than between spouses, as it is now.
The Save Romania Union, the only parliamentary party to oppose the
revision saying it will create division in society, now speaks of procedural
flaws and calls on the Ombudsman to challenge in the Constitutional Court the
government's emergency order establishing the date of the referendum. In a
public letter, the Save Romania Union says the measure should have been taken
by Parliament and not by government through an emergency order, and that the
latter changed the referendum rules after the start of the referendum process,
which runs counter to the code of good practice recommended by the Venice
Commission, among others.
A previous referendum to revise the Constitution from 2003 was also
held over two days. The referendum in question was also called by a leftist
government, but the revisions were of an entirely different nature, seeking to clearly
stating the principle of the separation of powers, guaranteeing the right to
property and creating a constitutional framework for the country's
Euro-Atlantic integration. As indicated by the slogan "Yes for Europe" under
which it took place, the 2003 referendum was about revising the Constitution to
bring the country closer to western values.
The upcoming referendum, on the other hand, is the result of a
citizen initiative that gathered 3 million signatures, and whose promoters,
namely Christian organisations advocating the traditional family, have openly
admitted their aim is to prevent same-sex marriage. High-ranking officials of
the Orthodox Church, which is the church of the majority in Romania, have urged
the faithful to say yes in the referendum. For, to quote the metropolitan of
Ardeal Laurentiu Streza, "those who will never be married in Church will ask
for the right to marry and will also take our children, for they cannot have
children of their own".
In response, the representatives of Respect. The Platform for Rights
and Liberties, which brings together 110 organisations, advise people to
boycott the referendum so that this initiative, considered damaging, dangerous
and divisive, should not be adopted. The referendum of hatred is only an
instrument to advance a backward and undemocratic agenda, the representatives
of this platform also say.
The critics and adversaries of the ruling coalition formed by the
Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats say the
referendum in which the government is investing so much money and energy is an
attempt to wash away the negative image created by the African swine flu
epidemic, the controversial changes to the criminal legislation and the
forceful intervention of the riot police at an anti-government protest last