In Romania over the last weekend, there was a vote on changing the wording of the constitution of the nation where marriage is defined as between two spouses to between one man and one woman.
The staunch conservative government had elicited the support and involvement of the Romanian Orthodox church and mounted a campaign against gay marriage. Further taking the unusual step of extending the vote from 1 to 2 days to try and get the required number of votes
Romania is a country that does not recognise gay marriage or civil unions. So whilst the alteration to the constitution would have blocked future changes in LGBT+ civil rights it would have made no difference now. So what was all of the fuss about?
My friends in Romania, gay and straight tell me the public perception is this has all been a “smokescreen” to divert attention from what is really going on in the government. One of its most powerful politicians, Liviu Dragnea, has been convicted for his part in a fake jobs scam and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. His appeal against sentence was held up for another month at the start of this week.
Early indications from pre-voting day polls suggested up to 90% of people would cast their vote. A vote for No would have counted as part of the percentage of the overall number of voters. This is important as 30% of the voting population were required to take part to validate the referendum. In response to this the No campaign had promoted an abstention from voting as a way to defeat the vote by reducing the number of people taking part and forcing the Yes campaign to provide all of the 30% of voters required.
The referendum was not validated as only 20.4% of voters turned out. A massive result for passive resistance!
What does this mean for the future of LGBT+ rights in Romania? Is there a softening towards a more accepted view, or were the populous just fed up of being duped by the government?
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