Bucharest, Romania, Sep 13, 2018 / 10:00 am (CNA).- A referendum on the definition of marriage appears headed for a national vote in Romania. The ballot measure, strongly support by the Romanian parliament, would clarify that the country’s constitution recognizes marriage as a union of one man and one woman
The upper house of Romania’s parliament approved the referendum in a 107-13 vote on Sept. 11. The lower house of parliament approved the referendum last year.
Over 3 million citizens had signed a request to hold a referendum in 2016, a request organized by Romanian civil groups in the Coalition for Family. The vote could take place as early as Oct. 7, and could bar any effort to recognize same-sex unions, Reuters reports.
If passed, the referendum would amend the country’s constitution to define marriage as a union between “a man and a woman.” At present marriage is defined as a union between “spouses.”
The Romanian Orthodox Church has backed the referendum, as have the smaller Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches.
Romanian law allows constitutional changes to be proposed by at least 500,000 citizens, or by the president, the government, and 25 percent of all lawmakers. Parliament must endorse the proposal, after which it faces a national referendum.
There are about 20 million people living in Romania.
Same-sex civil partnerships are not recognized in the country. The European Court of Justice in June ruled that European Union states which do not recognize same-sex unions as marriages must offer to those in such unions residency rights equal to those of married couples.
Local and international LGBT advocacy groups have criticized the referendum, as have several dozen members of the European Parliament.
About half of the EU’s 28 countries recognize same-sex “marriage” and others recognize same-sex civil partnerships.