LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Slovenian referendum rejects marriage equality

The referendum voters in Slovenia have rejected a law to open marriage to same-sex couples with 37% in favour of the amendment, 63% voted against it.

The amendment to the Marriage and Family Relations Act will not now come into force.

Today, ILGA-Europe stand in solidarity with all the civil society groups and LGBTI activists who were part of the progressive “Čas Je Za” campaign.

Reacting to the referendum result, Brian Sheehan, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:

“Naturally, this is a huge disappointment for rainbow families in Slovenia. But ILGA-Europe want to say thank you to all the thousands of voters who took the time to come out and cast their ballot in support of equality. Even though marriage equality isn’t a reality just yet, their dedication to the cause shows that great progress has been made. We have to remember that when this bill originally passed in March, it had impressive political support. The appetite is there for change.”

The gender neutral marriage proposal had originally been approved by the Slovenian National Assembly in March, before an opposition group gathered the 40,000 signatures required to call for a referendum on the issue. The parliament then voted to reject this request as popular votes on human rights issues had been constitutionally prohibited since 2013. Following an appeal to the Constitutional Court, the court authorised a referendum on 22 October. It was announced in early November that a referendum would take place on 20 December.

Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, reflected on the result: “Right now, the optimism of March 2015 feels like a more distant memory. However, we will not lose hope. In 2005, Slovenia became the first post-communist country to legally recognise same-sex partnership. It has led the way before and can do so again. We will continue to support our members in Slovenia to work towards greater equality for LGBTI families.”

A previous referendum to amend the Family Code to extend the legal protections available to same-sex couples in registered partnerships was rejected in 2012.