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Slovakia vote on gay rights restrictions not binding due to insufficient turnout

Slovakia vote on gay rights restrictions not binding due to insufficient turnout

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — A nationwide referendum on restricting gay rights in Slovakia has failed to produce a legally binding result after the required number of eligible voters did not turn out.

SlovakiaIn Saturday’s vote, Slovaks were asked whether they agree to three points: that marriage can only be called a union between a man and a woman; that same-sex partners must be barred from adopting children; and that it’s up to parents to decide whether their children receive sex education.

The vote was forced by the Alliance for Family, a social conservative group that received a massive support from the Catholic Church.

With all the votes tallied early Sunday by the country’s Statistics Office, voters in the predominantly Catholic country overwhelmingly voted “yes” – 95, 92 and 90 percent, respectively – to the three questions.

But turnout reached only 21.4 percent, far less than the 50 percent needed.

“It’s a success of Slovakia’s democracy,” said Silvia Porubanova, an analyst.

A leader of the alliance, Anton Chromik, said he was delighted that a clear majority of the voters who participated in the ballot supported the alliance and called it “a good base” for its further activities.

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Romana Schlesinger, a LGBT activist said, she hoped the government will now work to make it possible for same-sex couples to live in registered partnership “because all our partnerships, our families are living without legal recognition or protection.”

Slovakia doesn’t allow same-sex partners to live in registered partnerships and the country’s constitution was amended last year to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The vote in Slovakia – which follows a similar one that succeeded in Croatia in 2013 – points to a cultural divide within the European Union in which more established western members are rapidly granting new rights to gays, while eastern newcomers entrench conservative attitudes toward LGBT people.

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