The Associated Press reported that preliminary results indicate that voters by a 63-37 percent margin rejected the statute.
“It’s Time for Yes” (Čas je Za in Slovenian), the campaign that that backed the marriage law, thanked its supporters on its Twitter page after authorities announced the results.
“Our time has yet to come, but it will come. Soon,” it said. “Thank you for all your support at the ballot box.”
Čas ZA našo zgodbo še prihaja. Kmalu. Hvala vsem za podporo na voliščih. #casjeZA
— Čas je ZA (@casjeZA) December 20, 2015
“The voters had a chance to put the values of solidarity, love, equality and family into practice but the conservative majority showed that it is not time yet for yes in Slovenia,” said Simon Maljevac, co-chair of Čas je Za, in a statement. “We have tried to show that there is no reason to deny a group of people the right to marry solely because of their sexual orientation, but the feelings of fear and opponents misleading information during the campaign prevailed.”
Brian Sheehan, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive board, in a statement expressed disappointment over the results.
“Naturally, this is a huge disappointment for rainbow families in Slovenia,” he said. “But ILGA-Europe want to say thank you to all the thousands of voters who took the time to come out and cast their ballot in support of equality. Even though marriage equality isn’t a reality just yet, their dedication to the cause shows that great progress has been made.”
The Slovenian Parliament in March overwhelmingly approved the law that also sought to extend adoption rights to gays and lesbians.
“Children Are at Stake,” a coalition of religious and socially conservative groups, collected more than 80,000 signatures in support of a referendum on the statute. The Slovenian Parliament tried to block the vote, but the country’s Constitutional Court in October said it could take place.
Pope Francis last week urged Slovenian politicians “to support the family, a structural reference point for the life of society.”
Slovenia would have been the first non-Western European country and the first former Yugoslav republic to allow gays and lesbians to marry if voters had upheld the marriage law.
“We are very sad, but we also feel that a progress has been made in LGTB issues in Slovenia,” Jure Poglajen, a gay dentist from the town of Brezice near the Croatian border, told the Washington Blade on Sunday after officials announced the referendum results.
Slovenian lawmakers in 2011 approved a law that extended many of the same rights of marriage to gays and lesbians. Voters the following year repealed it in a referendum.
Matej Knific, a resident of the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana who manages PinkWeek.eu, which seeks to promote LGBT tourism in the country, told the Blade on Sunday he remains hopeful that same-sex couples will gain marriage rights.
“Tomorrow is another day,” he said. “Sooner or later we will gain equal rights.”