Romania’s anti-gay marriage vote voided over low turnout

Just 20% of registered voters cast their ballot in referendum to define marriage as explicitly between a man and woman

Low turnout has voided a referendum in Romania on restricting the definition of marriage to exclude same-sex unions, election officials have said.

Just 20% of registered voters had cast their ballot by the time polls closed at 6pm GMT on the second day of the referendum – well below the 30% threshold needed for the result to be valid. Final results are expected Monday.

Romanians to vote in referendum LGBT groups say is fuelling hate
Romanians had been asked whether the constitution should be altered to define marriage as explicitly between a man and woman, rather than just “spouses” as it is currently defined.

A poll on Friday had indicated that as many as 90% of voters were in favour of the change.

Same-sex couples are already not allowed by law to marry or enter into civil partnerships in Romania.

But ahead of the vote, critics said a change in the constitution would make it nearly impossible for gay people to win the right to marry in future.

Those in favour of the amendment, backed by the powerful Orthodox Church, insisted they wanted to defend traditional family values.

“If we allow gay people to marry, tomorrow they will be asking to adopt children and that would be unacceptable,” said one retired man on Saturday.

However, others criticised the motion. “It is an enormous lie and a waste of money,” said Ileana Popescu, a retiree, after attending mass in Bucharest on Sunday.

“We should let everyone choose whether or not to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Critics said the leftwing ruling Social Democrats (PSD) were using the referendum to revive support among the country’s overwhelmingly Orthodox population and deflect attention from corruption scandals implicating party officials.

The PSD leader, Liviu Dragnea, is scheduled to appear in court on Monday to appeal against a three-and-a-half year jail sentence over a fake jobs scandal.

Several voting stations in the centre of the capital were virtually deserted early Sunday afternoon.

“The aggressiveness of the ’Yes’ campaign, the attempt to instil hatred against a minority, has made Romanians reticent to vote,” sociologist Gelu Duminica told AFP.

by AFP in Bucharest
Source – The Guardian