In December 2015, a Conservative „initiative committee” published in the Romanian Official Journal (Monitorul Oficial) a proposal for a citizen-supported amendment to the Romanian Constitution that will narrow the definition of marriage and family, preemptively forbidding the recognition of same-sex marriages in Romania. The committee successfully collected 3 million signatures all over Romania (in a country with a population of only 19 million people) and six months later, in May 2016, submitted the Constitutional proposition to the Romanian Parliament for deliberation and subsequent approval.
One year later, in May 2017, the Romanian Chamber of Deputies adopted the Constitutional amendment with a very large majority (92% of all members) and now the amendment is stuck in the Romanian Senate, who is still to vote on the issue.
What is the process of amending the Constitution?
The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the President, a quarter of the members of the Parliament of Romania or at least 500,000 citizens from at least half the counties in the country. The Parliament must then approve the revision of the Constitution with a 3/4 majority of each chamber, which must then pass a nationwide referendum.
The amendment is approved and becomes part of the Constitution if (1) at least 30% of the electorate participates in the nationwide referendum and (2) at least 25% of the electorate expresses a valid vote (yes or no).
What will the amendment do?
The amendment will narrow the definition of the family in the Romanian Constitution. The current text of the Constitution declares that the family is founded on the freely consented marriage of the ‘spouses’ and the Coalition for the Family wants to change ‘spouses’ into ‘man and woman’.
Current text of Art. 48 of the Romanian Constitution:
(1) The family is founded on the freely consented marriage of the spouses, their full equality, as well as the right and duty of the parents to ensure the upbringing, education and instruction of their children.
The amended text, according to the Constitutional amendment:
(1) The family is founded on the freely consented marriage between a man and a woman, their full equality, as well as the right and duty of the parents to ensure the upbringing, education and instruction of their children.
Same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are already banned in Romania, according to provisions of the Romanian Civil Code, therefore the new Constitutional amendment will not change the Romanian law in any way, but narrowing the definition of marriage in the Constitution will prevent future legislation to amend the Civil Code in order to allow marriage equality and will make the fight for full equality much longer.
Who is behind the amendment?
The amendment was proposed by the ‘Coalition for the Family’ (Coaliția pentru Familie), a Christian ecumenical and conservative organization that comprises a significant number of conservative, right-wing, and religious organizations and has the political, social, and financial support of the Romanian Orthodox Church and most neo-protestant and evangelical churches in Romania.
These organizations are not only fighting against equal rights for LGBTQIA+ people, but also for banning abortion and limiting the reproductive rights of women, as well as promoting religious education in public schools.
Are there any foreign supporters of the amendment?
The Coalition for the Family, the organization that proposed the amendment, has strong links with the U.S. Conservative movement and organizations, especially through the neo-protestant and evangelical churches that are active in Romania. Through some factions of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the organization also receives some kind of support from Russia and other Slavic countries and the Russian Ambassador to Romania has expressed his support for the amendment.
The Coalition receives financial, legal, and lobby expertise from Liberty Council, an organization that promotes litigation related to evangelical Christian values. The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed Liberty Counsel as an Anti-LGBT hate group. In October 2017, this organization brought Kim Davis to Romania in order to promote the amendment and campaign against same-sex marriage, as reported also by the New York Times.
Another international organization that supports the Coalition for the Family is ‘Alliance Defending Freedom International‘. ADFI is an American conservative Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of advocating, training, and funding on the issues of “religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the organization an anti-LGBT hate group and described it as “virulently anti-gay”. The SPLC’s describes the group’s mission as “making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally”; the group and its representatives have repeatedly engaged in defamation of and scare tactics against LGBT communities and persons in the USA.
Do you need help?
YES! MozaiQ is an evolving organization, but we are still quite small and this is the case for almost every other progressive or pro-LGBTQIA+ organization in the country. We have limited resources to fight back against the Conservative campaign that strives to limit our rights and to block any path to full equality. We estimate that the Conservative movement will outspend us by more than 50 to 1.
Therefore, if you are able to support us, please do so. You can support us financially by making a donation, by telling others about the current situation in Romania, and by promoting our messages. Also, if you are able to assist our mobilization for the upcoming nationwide referendum in any way, including with professional skills or by volunteering to our campaign, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.