Slovakia’s referendum on marriage and a ban on adoption by same-sex couples would lead to a breach of international human rights standards, said Amnesty International ahead of the vote on 7 February.
“This referendum could lead to a significant step back for Slovakia. If the public says yes to these questions and they’re adopted into law, Slovakia bolsters homophobic discrimination and undermines sexuality education,” says Barbora Cernusakova, Amnesty International’s researcher on Slovakia.
Slovakia currently does not legally recognise same-sex partnerships, and the Constitution defines marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman.
“If this restrictive definition is reinforced by the referendum, it will be more difficult to overturn. It will cement the already conservative status quo and make it hard for any progressive legislation in this field in the country in the near future.”
The referendum will ask voters if they agree that:
• “no other cohabitation of persons other than a union between one man and one woman can be called marriage”
• “same-sex couples or groups shall not be permitted to adopt and subsequently raise children”
• “schools shall not require children to participate in education in the area of sexual behaviour or euthanasia if their parents or the children themselves do not agree with it.”
To be legally binding, the turnout in the ballot must be more than 50 per cent.
A blanket ban on same-sex adoption of children violates the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It demands that states must ensure that everyone has “…the same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status”.