Slovenia legalizes same-sex marriage even after citizens rejected measure in 3 national referendums

The Constitutional Court of Slovenia legalized same-sex marriage in a landmark ruling. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
By M B
4 Min Read

Slovenia has become the first former communist eastern bloc country to legalize same-sex marriage, but the decision was far from democratic. Despite Slovenian citizens rejecting same-sex marriage in three separate national referendums, the country’s Constitutional Court went ahead and legalized such marriages as well as authorizing adoptions from same-sex couples.

On July 8, six judges voted to legalize same-sex marriages and adoptions, while three voted against. The majority argued that a ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. According to Radio France, the ruling came after two gay couples filed complaints that they could not marry or adopt children.

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The judges write that their decision “does not diminish the importance of traditional marriage as a union of a man and a woman nor does it change the conditions under which people of the opposite sex can marry.” Previously, Slovenians had opposed universal marriage in three separate referendum votes, the last time in 2015, with 60 percent of citizens voting against the legalization. Pope Francis had also pleaded for a “no” vote, telling Slovenes to “support the family, the reference structure for life in society.” Those opposing same-sex marriage during the referendum were supported by conservative parties and the Catholic Church.

As seen in many countries, the courts bypassed the will of the people on this particular social issue. Now, the Slovenian Parliament has six months to act, but they will likely legalize same-sex marraiges much sooner. Prime Minister Robert Golob is preparing to launch a new law within two weeks to ensure same-sex marriage rules comply with the top court’s ruling.

“The Constitutional Court orders us to lift this unconstitutionality. We will do so as soon as possible, we are already preparing the law,” affirmed Luka Mesec, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities.

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Now, Slovenia joins France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, and Portugal, becoming the eighteenth country in Europe to legalize universal marriage. Civil union remains the only legal status for same-sex couples in Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and the Czech Republic. On the other hand, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, recognize no form of union for same-sex couples.

In Romania, for example, the last referendum organized in 2018 was invalidated due to too many abstentions. In Hungary, Viktor Orbán has fought to ensure marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. In 2020, Hungary’s constitution was changed and now it defines the family as “based on marriage and the parent-child relationship”, where “the mother is a woman, the father is a man.”

In June 2021, the Hungarian parliament also adopted a text prohibiting the teaching of LGBT ideology to minors in a school setting, including sex education lessons if they “aim to promote gender non-conformity, sex reassignment or homosexuality.”

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