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Romania mulls legalising same-sex civil unions after referendum fail

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By Chris Harris
Romania mulls legalising same-sex civil unions after referendum fail

Romania is set to debate legalising same-sex civil unions — just weeks after a referendum that tried to bury the idea of gay marriage.

Petre Florin Manole, an MP for the ruling PSD party, said he and 42 other colleagues submitted a draft legislation on Wednesday.

If approved, the law would legalise civil partnerships for hetrosexual and same-sex couples but stop unions of the latter group adopting children.

Vlad Viski, president of Romanian LGBTI organisation MozaiQ, said his group supports the legislation.

“Romania is about to take over the presidency of the Council of the EU, so legalising civil partnerships before May 2019 would send a strong signal that Romania is to remain on its strong commitment to European values,” he told Euronews.

“We believe it is up to political parties to understand the signal sent by Romanians to them during the referendum to change the constitution.

“We hoping that politicians will understand that it is their responsibility to legalise civil unions, especially after two decisions by the Constitutional Court of Romania, which says gay couples fall under the notion of a family and need some form of legal recognition.”

A referendum in October asked Romanians if they wanted to change the definition of family in the constitution.

It would have recognised marriage as being specifically between a man and woman, instead of the existing gender-neutral definition of “a union of spouses”.

Campaigners behind the vote wanted to stop the European wave of gay marriage legalisation from reaching the country.

But the referendum failed after not enough people turned out to vote.

Radu Magdin, an expert on Romanian politiics, told Euronews the chances of the civil union legislation passing were slim.

“The parliamentary majority is reflective of society and remains conservative,” he said.

“The referendum's failure does not equate with a total change of hearts and minds from the political class perspective.”

But, he added, it indicated democracy was alive and well in Romania.

“It also shows the parliament has some renewed traction in political debates. It has initiatives, and it should be constant in its initiatives, particularly if it wants popular respect as a legislative powerhouse.”

Religiously-conservative Romania currently bans both marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples and does not recognise those performed abroad.

Earlier this year, Romania was forced by a European Court of Justice ruling to grant residency rights to gay spouses married in other EU states.

Previous attempts to legalise civil unions did not make it out of parliament’s legal commissions.

Romania decriminalised homosexuality in 2001, decades later than neighbouring countries. It ranks 25th out of 28 EU states based on legislation, hate speech and discrimination toward LGBT people, according to an annual study by ILGA-Europe, an umbrella organisation advocating equality.