Slovenians reject same-sex marriages in a referendum

Lesbian couple Andreja (left, with child) and Jedrt heading for the polling station in Ljubljana, Slovenia, during the national referendum allowing same-sex marriages on Dec 20, 2015.
Lesbian couple Andreja (left, with child) and Jedrt heading for the polling station in Ljubljana, Slovenia, during the national referendum allowing same-sex marriages on Dec 20, 2015. PHOTO: EPA
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Dec 20, 2015, during the referendum to repeal the law allowing same-sex marriages.
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Dec 20, 2015, during the referendum to repeal the law allowing same-sex marriages. PHOTO: EPA
Slovenia's Prime Minister Miro Cerar supports gay marriage and says it would eliminate discrimination and grant equal rights to all citizens.
Slovenia's Prime Minister Miro Cerar supports gay marriage and says it would eliminate discrimination and grant equal rights to all citizens. PHOTO: REUTERS

LJUBLJANA (REUTERS) - Slovenians voted against a law that would enable same-sex couples to get married and to adopt children in its second vote on gay rights in four years.

About 63.4 per cent of voters rejected the law in a referendum while 36.6 per cent supported it, a preliminary result of the State Electoral Commission showed after 99 per cent of votes were counted on Dec 20. 

Parliament passed a law in March giving same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children but the measures have not been enforced because a civil society group called For Children appealed to the top court, calling for a referendum. 

In another referendum in 2012, almost 55 per cent of voters in the European Union member state and ex-Yugoslav republic opposed giving more rights to same-sex couples.

“I personally am disappointed but I still believe that Slovenia is generally moving towards a more inclusive society and I am sure that a similar law will be enforced at some point in the future,” Roman Kuhar, a male sociologist who has been living with his male partner for 11 years, told Reuters.

“The problem is that only people who are strongly against the law or strongly in its favour vote in a referendum. If most other people would cast a vote, as well, I believe the law would be enforced,” he added.

Turnout on Sunday was 36.2 per cent.  The government supported the new law but did not participate in the referendum campaign.

The main opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), was against the law. “We are against the law that would deny the basic right of a child to have a mother and a father,” For Children said on its website. 

The small Alpine state of 2 million citizens is relatively tolerant of gay couples who have been able to formally register their relationship since 2006 and are also allowed to adopt children from a partner’s previous relationship – though not other children. 

A number of EU states have legally recognised same-sex marriages, including Britain, France and Spain, but the issue remains contentious in many other EU states.