Romania’s Constitutional Court has taken a huge step back in gay rights after the Orthodox Church was successful in its homophobic campaign.
While it currently has protection laws in place for LGBTI people, that could all change after the Constitutional Court has given way to legislation that could lead to same-sex marriage and civil unions expressly banned in the south-eastern European country.
The court approved a citizen’s initiative that aims to amend the constitutional definition of family to make it clear a union is only between a man and a woman.
The constitutional amendment will now be discussed by Parliament. Any proposal to amend the Romanian constitution must be approved by 75% majority of both chambers before a referendum is held.
The decision was made after the Coalition for Family, a group of religion NGO groups headed by the powerful Orthodox Church, needed 500,000 signatures to submit to the Romanian government. They raised over 3 million.
LGBTI rights leaders fear if a referendum is held to expressly ban recognition of same-sex unions, then it will not go their way. A 2012 poll found 53% of Romanians want homosexuality itself to be outlawed.
‘We regret the prejudices of society have led the Court to deny international human rights standards in matters of family and respect for human dignity,’ Romanita Iordache, the vice president of ACCEPT, said.
‘We call on politicians to act responsibly towards the LGBTI community…The political class must not forget the family is an institution based on love and respect, and this includes both gay couples, straight unmarried couples and single parent families. All these families exist and are part of society.
‘In a democracy, all these families are entitled to equal protection under the Constitution’.
Evelyne Paradis, the executive director of ILGA-Europe, called the news ‘very disturbing’.
‘In practical terms, changing those few words in the constitutional article will have profound implications for same-sex couples and their children living in Romania,’ she said.
Vlad Viski, the president of MozaiQ, a LGBTI rights organization in Romania, told Gay Star News the Coalition for Family will not stop if they succeed in banning same-sex marriage. They intend to propose a ban on abortions, pornography, policies to discourage divorce, and ban all sexual education in schools.
‘The LGBTI community in Romania seems to have very little options in the battle with the Goliath that is the Orthodox Church. Local groups are poorly funded, very few people are out and ready to represent the cause, and there is still fear amongst activists to openly ask for the legalization of gay marriage,’ he said.
‘These days and in the upcoming months, Romania is faced with a major decision concerning not only LGBTI rights, but rather the path it wants to take when it comes to democracy, European values, separation between Church and state, and protection of minorities.
‘It can either choose to go back to a past where abortion and homosexuality were illegal, or it can go forward and stand up for its LGBTI citizens, for equality and justice for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, bodily ability or socio-economic status.’