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News 07 Jun 13

Romania's New Constitution Bans Gay Marriage

An amendment to Romania's new constitution, backed by MPs and the Orthodox Church, defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman alone.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

The commission tasked with revising Romania’s Constitution has adopted an amendment describing marriage as a consensual relationship between a man and a woman alone.

The amendment, proposed by three MPs and backed by the powerful Romanian Orthodox Church, was adopted with 15 votes in favour and three abstentions.

Previously, the constitutional article used only the words “between spouses” when referring to the marriage partners.

Civic activists called the proposed change in the constitution a backward development. “While 16 countries in Europe already recognize same marriage or civil partnership between persons of the same sex, Romania is now forbidding it," Remus Cernea, a politician and rights activist, said.

"It is clear a democratic setback. Romania should now be included among the most homophobic countries in the world,” he added.

Early this year, Cernea said he wanted to initiate a draft law on civil union between both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, but his initiative was rejected.

“If he makes such a proposal, he is a man with a confused mind,” an official from the Romanian Orthodox Church commented.

The Orthodox Church has often expressed disapproval of same sex partnerships. More than 85 per cent of Romania’s population of 19.5 million belong to the Church, which enjoys high levels of trust in the public.

None of Romania's major political parties, either in government or in opposition, supports same-sex marriage, or registered partnerships, or has proposed any law on the subject.

“Romania is not yet ready to encourage marriage between same-sex persons and in my opinion this topic came up in public too early,”  Alina Gheorghiu, an MP who abstained from the vote on the change to the constitution, said.

"I think this comes far too early, and we have many issues that are more important," she added.

In recent years, mainly since Romania joined the EU, the country has come under pressure to give same-sex relationships the same kind of legal status they enjoy in other EU member states.

On June 5, 2006, following the Bucharest GayFest, a Romanian activist "married" his Spanish partner in a purely symbolic ceremony. The couple married officially later in a civil marriage in Spain.

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