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Voters in Romania boycott restrictive referendum on definition of family


07 Oct 2018


Global Europe

A referendum in Romania asking voters to restrict the constitutional definition of family has failed to reach the required 30% turnout target.

Groups campaigning against the constitutional amendment had urged voters in Romania to boycott the referendum and to stay at home – a call that clearly resonated with families all over the country.

This proposed definition was always anti-family to its very core. How can excluding generations of children, their parents, siblings or other family members from recognition in the eyes of the state possibly be ‘pro-family’?” said Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director.

People were voting on whether they wanted to amend the current neutral wording of Article 48.1 to a narrower definition that excludes many families in Romania – including single parents, multi-generational families, unmarried couples and rainbow families.

The proposed definition would have only recognised married different-sex couples as a family deserving of constitutional protection. In order for the result to be binding, at least 30% of registered voters had to cast a ballot in the referendum.

Together, through the #boycott campaign, we showed that we, as citizens, want a Romania based upon democratic values, a country where respect, equality and common sense guides society. Today we have shown that we can not be fooled by a political agenda that urges us to hate and polarise society, we have shown that most of us believe that human rights are not to be voted at a referendum.” commented Accept Association, one of ILGA-Europe’s member organisations in Romania, in a statement issued tonight.

 “The campaign of hate against the LGBTI community in Romania failed. But the referendum once again showed how vulnerable the LGBTI community is, in the absence of proper legal recognition of same-sex partnerships and families. It is time that Romania finally ensured that same-sex couples are legally recognised.” remarked ILGA-Europe Advocacy Director Katrin Hugendubel.


For more information, please contact: 
Emma Cassidy, ILGA-Europe Senior Communications and Media Officer,; +32 2 609 56 50

 Notes for editors: 

  1. ILGA-Europe is the European Region of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and works for human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans & intersex people in Europe. ILGA-Europe represents over 400 member organisations in 45 European countries: 
  2. For up-to-date information on the legal and policy situation for LGBTI people in Europe, visit our Rainbow Europe Module:
  3. Romania is 35th in the latest Rainbow Europe ranking on law and policy, published in May 2018; rainbow families currently have no legal protection:
  4. Read Accept Association’s latest reaction (7 October) here:
  5. At time of writing (21.30 CET), 20.41% turnout had been reported.
  6. Initiated in 2015 by the Coalition for Family (23 NGOs purporting to support family values), the original signature collection campaign’s overall aim was to amend the constitutional definition of family, limiting it to the marriage of a different-sex couple.
  7. The proposal suggested altering Article 48.1 which currently states that “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 rewording aimed to remove the reference to “spouses”, replacing it with a specific reference to one man and one woman.

In addition to a vocal international outcry from human rights groups, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans had also spoken out in advance of the vote, stating that family rights should not be weaponised against others, including the LGBTI community.