Voters in Slovakia failed to turn out today in the required numbers to pass a referendum that would have amended the Slovakian Constitution to reinforce the country’s existing ban on same-sex marriage, prohibit same-sex couples from adopting, and allow students to opt out of attending classes that discuss sex or euthanasia.

The amendments failed because fewer than the required threshold of fifty percent of registered voters showed up to the polls. The amendments in themselves were harmful to the LGBT community, and HRC welcomes the fact that the referendum failed. There is always a risk, as we have seen in other cases, that fundamental civil and human rights of a minority can be removed or abridged by the will of the majority because of hatred towards that group.

American anti-LGBT groups and individuals, including the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), supported the referendum.  When Slovakia’s constitutional court was deciding the legality of holding the referendum, ADF provided legal support and filed an amicus brief to advocate in favor of it. With an annual budget of more than $45 million, ADF is one of the largest American organizations exporting anti-LGBT hate and bigotry abroad.

Though an amendment to Slovakia’s constitution banned same-sex marriage in 2014, this referendum was orchestrated in order to reinforce the constitutional change, as well as bar same-sex couples from adopting. The referendum asked voters to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, ban same-sex couples from adopting children, and make sex education and classes that discuss euthanasia non-compulsory. Initially the referendum included a question about the permissibility of same-sex civil unions. Slovakia’s constitutional court rejected this question. Though the government does not officially recognize same-sex couples, the court ruled that civil unions are not a matter that can be adjudicated upon by a national referendum.  

ADF has advocated against the rights of LGBT people in international human rights cases and has partnerships with attorneys in 31 countries around the world. The group has worked in Russia, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Belize, Argentina and now, Slovakia. In September, HRC put ADF Executive Vice President Benjamin Bull on notice for exporting anti-LGBT hate.

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