A referendum to prevent granting new rights to gays in Slovakia, an ex-Communist state in the European Union’s east, failed Saturday due to a low turnout as opponents of the popular vote urged people to stay at home. Only 21.4% of 4.41 million eligible voters cast their ballots, below the required 50% quorum in this predominantly Roman Catholic country of five million people to make the national-vote results legally binding, final results released Sunday by the Slovak electoral commission showed. They confirmed preliminary results published late Saturday. The final tally also showed that between 90.3% and 94.5% of 944,209 Slovaks voting in the referendum agreed to all three questions it asked: whether marriage can only be a union of a man and a woman; whether to ban same-sex couples from adopting children; and whether parents can let their children skip school classes involving education on sex and euthanasia. The Slovak antigay vote followed a similar referendum that succeeded in Croatia, also a Roman Catholic EU member, in 2013. The different results reflect cultural differences within Europe on gay rights. Some people in mostly ex-Communist eastern EU states, including also Hungary and Poland, are against what they view as excessively liberal policies such as legalizing various forms of same-sex unions and children adoptions by gay couples possible elsewhere in the 28-nation bloc, including Austria and the Czech Republic.
“I didn’t vote in the referendum because I believe there are other more important issues the government and parliament should deal with,” said Peter Bako, a 40-year-old businessman in Topolcany, a town 110 kilometers (68 miles) northeast of the Slovak capital Bratislava.
Alliance for Family, a conservative group, collected more than 400,000 signatures for a petition demanding the national vote. “Marriage is for a man and a woman because only they can procreate and form a family as the best way to raise children and never until our times the marriage was viewed as a union of let’s say two males,” said Anton Chromik, a co-founder of Alliance for Family. Leaving the outcome aside, the referendum has started the discussion on “what’s important for our children,” he added.
At present no forms of marriage-like unions for gay people are possible in Slovakia. Same-sex partners aren’t explicitly prohibited from raising children, but existing regulations are complex and skewed in favor of adoptions by heterosexual couples against single individuals.
Full Article: Slovakia Referendum on Gay-Adoption Ban Fails – WSJ.