Will gay marriage become impossible in Romania?
In a referendum this weekend the Romanian people will decide whether marriage will be defined in their constitution as a union between a man and a woman - effectively ruling out gay marriage. A church organisation initiated the vote. Some commentators see it as an expression of Romanian sovereignty, whereas others believe it will only further divide society.
One area the EU doesn't interfere in
The referendum should not be interpreted as a vote against the EU, writes journalist Cătălin Sturza in România Liberă, a daily paper that for days has been urging people to vote Yes:
“The referendum is taking place precisely because within the EU, family law falls within the remit of the member states. This is an act of sovereignty and independence. Never has an EU member state been held to account for making a decision on family law, on marriage. Is this referendum an initiative aimed at deepening Euroscepticism in Romania? No - on the contrary. With this debate the Romanians are seeing that the EU is not a tyrannical structure that imposes its values on them, but a structure in which you can keep your identity in key areas.”
An irresponsible game with emotions
This referendum will deepen the rifts within society, philologist Liviu Papadima comments worriedly on the website Contributors:
“By reducing the vote to a 'yes' or 'no', the referendum is turning a sensitive and complex problem into a confrontation between two opposed 'camps': the pro-LGBT community and the anti-LGBT community. This is precisely what our politicians have done continuously for the past two years: divide Romanian society. ... The fact that this referendum has managed to pitch religion against sexuality instead of handling them carefully - as philosopher Karl Popper recommends - fills me with horror. Do we celebrate if religion wins the battle against sexuality? Or vice versa? This is an irresponsible game in which I want no part.”
Churches have no business laying down the law
Journalist and philosopher Andrei Cornea calls for a boycott of the referendum in Revista 22:
“If the referendum is successful it would be a distinct symbolic weakening of the state's secular character, since the churches - first and foremost the Romanian Orthodox Church - directly and indirectly support the new definition of the family and a conservative is following suit. ... I'm not demanding that churches of any faith marry same-sex couples. But I am against them insisting that the state must not perform civil ceremonies on the grounds that they run counter to 'Christian morals'.”
Preserve marriage as a sacred mystery
For his part cultural journalist Cătălin Sturza writes in his blog on website Adevărul that the calls for a boycott shouldn't be heeded:
“Why can't the advocates of a boycott understand that with this initiative the secular definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is at stake, and parallel to that our freedom to preserve marriage as a sacred mystery? In other words, the goal is to avoid a situation in which in a few years' time the Church would be forced to perform marriage ceremonies that are against its moral doctrine. ... To boycott this citizens' initiative is basically to support same-sex marriage in Romania.”