The Romanians did not scramble to go to the polls for a controversial referendum to enforce the ban on gay marriage in the constitution. For the left in power, the hope was precisely to remobilize its electorate.
There was total uncertainty about the outcome of the polls, with voter turnout not reaching 12% by midday. A threshold of 30% of the approximately 19 million registered voters must be reached to validate the referendum. Many Romanians oppose indifference or even outright hostility to this consultation which proposes to change the definition of marriage in the Constitution so that only “a man and a woman” can unite and no longer “spouses”, as stipulated currently.
From a legal point of view, nothing will change after the referendum, since Romanian law currently allows neither same-sex marriage nor civil union. The opponents of the ballot cast off a vote whose sole effect was to give free rein to homophobic speeches and whose stake would be to make forget the woes of the left in power.
“We should give everyone the choice to marry or not, regardless of sexual orientation,” says a retired, after attending the Sunday Mass in Bucharest.
The renewed appeal on Sunday by the patriarch of the powerful Orthodox Church, Daniel, to consent “a charitable act for the family and for the people” did not convince either a young entrepreneur, who says “refuse to participate in this masquerade “.
Opponents of vote betting on the boycott, the victory of the “yes” to a constitutional amendment is assured, with a score that could reach 90% of the vote and a 34% stake, according to a survey of the Institute CURS published Friday . The referendum emanates from a “citizen initiative”, close to the Church, which presented the signatures of three million people who led to the organization of the consultation to defend the “traditional family”.
“The aggression that marked the campaign for (yes), the attempt to instil hatred against a minority made Romanians reluctant to vote,” says sociologist Gelu Duminica.
A constitutional ban would make any future change in the law in favor of same-sex couples more difficult, if not impossible, the opponents of the consultation worried. They fear that other initiatives will be launched that challenge the framework of abortion or sex education. The referendum provoked sharp criticism from the European institutions, which reminded Bucharest of its human rights commitments.
The final turnout will be known Sunday night, but the results should be released Monday, although a majority in favor of a change in the constitution is no doubt.
Despite the hysteria of the government against homosexuals, made of clichés and lies, the polling stations only displayed a participation rate of 30%. A score that does not reassure the Social Democrats.
“Politicians cynically exploit resentment against the homosexual community,” said Florin Buhuceanu, president of the Accept association, which represents the Romanian LGBT community, “they want to push us to distance ourselves from the European Union and bring us closer to Russia and its anti-EU policy In December 1989 the Romanians sacrificed their lives to bring down communism and did not die so that we could turn back to the East. ”
They have allied themselves with the powerful Orthodox Church, which has seen its parishes subsidized by the government and the town halls of the left. Millions of leaflets against the LGBT community have also been distributed by the popes in the villages, where nearly half of the 20 million Romanians live.
If, in Western Europe, the left has been open to same-sex marriage, the Romanian Social Democrats have chosen to go against the grain.