Open letter to Romanian Parliamentarians: Do not support the proposed referendum on the definition of the family

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Parliamentarians in Romania will soon be asked whether or not to support the organisation of a referendum to constitutionally define family as being based solely upon the marriage between a man and a woman

On the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Members of the LGBTI Intergroup write to Romanian Parliamentarians, urging them  not to support the referendum (click here for a Romanian translation).

 

To: Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, President of the Senate of Romania; Liviu Dragnea, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania; Traian Băsescu, Leader of Partidul Mișcarea Populară; Raluca Turcan, Leader of Partidul Național Liberal; Kelemen Hunor, Leader of Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România; Nicusor Dan, Leader of Uniunea Salvaţi România

Concerns: Referendum on the definition of the family

Strasbourg, 17th May 2017

Honourable President Tăriceanu and Honourable President Dragnea,

Honourable Mr Băsescu, Honourable Ms Turcan, Honourable Mr Hunor, Honourable Mr Dan,

Esteemed Members of the Parliament of Romania,

 

European Parliament logoAs Members of the European Parliament from various political groups and different EU member states, we want to call on you to support equal treatment and non-discrimination for everyone in Romania, including same-sex couples. In particular, we want to respectfully urge you to not support the proposed referendum on the definition of the family.

Indeed, since last year a campaign has been conducted in Romania to hold a referendum on redefining family within the Constitution as being based solely upon the marriage between a man and a woman. This proposal is most surprising, as same-sex couples are already forbidden to marry through the provisions of the standing Civil Code, which also prohibits the recognition of same-sex civil marriages or partnerships legally entered into abroad.

While we do not wish to intervene directly in Romanian family law, we do regret that this referendum would further incite discrimination against families in their various forms which already exist in Romanian society. By allowing the referendum to take place, without providing for any alternative form of legal recognition for non-married couples, you would appear to condone the ongoing human rights violations of same-sex couples and of children living in families where the partners are not married or children living in single parent families.

Indeed, this debate touches on real people and families who are being excluded from basic rights and duties today, with grave consequences. Without any recognition, people are not entitled to the protection of the family home and are not allowed to take care of their partner’s children when it is the most necessary, e.g. when he or she passes away. They can be refused to visit their partner at the hospital, they have no right to inheritance, they do not have access to basic social rights as partners, etc. And most often, their children – from previous relationships – are the first victims of this lack of recognition.

Under the current stance of European human rights law, it is still allowed to limit the institution of marriage to different-sex couples. However, the European Court of Human Rights has clearly recognised the right to respect for private and family life (Art. 8 ECHR) for same-sex couples and obliges States to provide for an alternative form of recognition of same-sex couples (Oliari and Others v Italy, App. nos. 18766/11 and 36030/11, 21 July 2015). The Court has also ruled that States shall not discriminate between same-sex and different-sex couples when creating such an alternative form of recognition (Vallianatos and others v Greece, App. nos 29381/09 and 32684/09, 7 November 2013).

We all live in the EU – a union of democratic values guaranteeing European citizens and their family members the right to move freely between members states and reside across the EU. Same-sex couples established in Member States that provide for the legal recognition and protection of their families cannot be treated as complete strangers when they cross the border to Romania. Despite repeated calls by the European Parliament, same-sex couples or different-sex couples in registered partnerships currently lack the protection of the law in a shrinking minority of Member States, including Romania. The situation of same-sex couples enjoying their right to move freely across the EU is also under scrutiny of the Court of Justice of the EU in the Coman case. Indeed, the Romanian Constitutional Court sought the guidance of the CJUE in interpreting European human rights law, European Union law and Romanian constitutional provisions.

For all these reasons, we call upon the Romanian Parliament to not support the organisation of a referendum which would further divide society and enshrine discrimination of same-sex couples and non-married different sex couples in the Constitution, which should be a fundamental text designed among others to protect the family life of all. We rather call on you to create an additional and alternative form of recognition for all couples, including same-sex couples, in order to provide for the most basic level of protection to which they are entitled under European human rights law.

Yours sincerely,

 

Ulrike Lunacek MEP
Greens/EFA

Daniele Viotti MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Malin Björk MEP
GUE/NGL

Tanja Fajon MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Sophie in ’t Veld MEP
ALDE

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP
European People’s Party

Brando Benifei MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Sergio Cofferatie MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Seb Dance MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Cornelia Ernst MEP
GUE/NGL

Ana Maria Gomes MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Anna Hedh MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Dennis de Jong MEP
GUE/NGL

Stelios Kouloglou MEP
GUE/NGL

Miapetra Kumpula-Natri MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Merja Kyllönen MEP
GUE/NGL

Edouard Martin MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Péter Niedermüller MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Maria Noichl MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Kati Piri MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Terry Reintke MEP
Greens/EFA

Virginie Rozière MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Lola Sánchez Caldentey MEP
GUE/NGL

Judith Sargentini MEP
Greens/EFA

Alyn Smith MEP
Greens/EFA

Bart Staes MEP
Greens/EFA

Helga Stevens MEP
European Conservatives & Reformists

Keith Taylor MEP
Greens/EFA

Josep-Maria Terricabras MEP
Greens/EFA

Ernest Urtasun MEP
Greens/EFA

Ivo Vajgl MEP
ALDE

Julie Ward MEP
Socialists & Democrats

Glenis Willmott MEP
Socialists & Democrats

 

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