September 18, 2018 at 3:24 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Romania’s top court approves marriage referendum

Romania’s top court on Sept. 17, 2018, approved a referendum on whether to amend the country’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. (Photo public domain)

Romania’s top court on Monday by a 7-2 vote margin approved a proposed referendum on whether to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Activists in the European country sharply criticized the decision.

“The referendum affects directly the status of Romanian democracy,” Vlad Viski, executive director of MozaiQ, a Romanian LGBTI advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Monday in a statement. “It leads to discrimination against the LGBT community, separating us in (sic) first class and second class citizens.”

The Coalition for Family, a group of 23 organizations that oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples, in 2015 launched a campaign in support of amending Romania’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The campaign collected 3 million signatures.

Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, traveled to Romania, which is a member of the European Union, last year with the Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTI legal group.

Rowan County (Ky.) County Clerk Kim Davis, left, traveled to Romania in 2017 to campaign in support of a referendum on whether to define marriage as between a man and a woman. (Photo courtesy of the Liberty Counsel)

Romanian Senate committees on Sept. 4 approved the proposed referendum. It received the full backing of the Romanian Senate last week.

ILGA Europe Litigation Officer Arpi Avetisyan in a statement said Romania “has a responsibility to protect all its citizens — straight and LGBTI.”

“The definition of ‘family’ put forward by the supporters of this referendum is frankly inaccurate; it only captures a very limited fraction of what family means to people in 2008,” said Avetisyan. “And it is also very out-of-step with reality and with the diversity of families being recognized by international human rights bodies and European courts.”

The referendum is scheduled to take place on Oct. 6-7.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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