Status of Same-Sex Marriage in Europe and Worldwide—Romanians Fighting to Preserve Marriage

By Sharon Slater  |  October 11, 2018

About 90 percent of Romanian voters who voted this past weekend supported a referendum to protect traditional marriage in Romania’s constitution. Unfortunately, however, the voter turnout (21 percent) fell short of the required 30 percent of Romania’s voters, so the referendum failed.


Yet Romanian defenders of marriage are not daunted, and say they will try again.

A petition requesting a constitutional amendment to protect man/woman marriage had been signed by a full three million Romanians (3.5 million Romanians turned out to vote), evidence that there is a strong will in Romania to protect marriage.


Neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions for same-sex couples are recognized by Romanian law, but a European Court of Justice recently issued a ruling granting Romanian residency rights to same-sex spouses of couples married in other EU countries.

Europe Marriage Stats


Since more attention is typically provided to nations that have redefined marriage to include same-sex couples, some may be surprised to learn that a majority of European nations still define marriage as the union of a husband and wife. In fact, support for man/woman marriage in Europe remains strong.


There are now fourteen European nations with constitutional provisions preserving the male-female definition of marriage (Bulgaria, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Armenia, Georgia). Eight countries have adopted these constitutional provisions since 2005.


Ten additional EU nations specifically preserve the male/female definition of marriage in their statutes (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Monaco, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Estonia).


Among nations that provide legal recognition of same-sex couples such as civil unions, eight still retain the definition of marriage as requiring a husband and wife (Andorra, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, Hungary, Greece, Cyprus, Italy).


In 2001 the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to redefine marriage in this way. Belgium followed two years later. Then twelve others, mostly western European nations, followed (Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Germany, Finland). In 2017 Austria’s constitutional court ruled the nation must redefine marriage beginning in January 2019.


This means that more than twice the number of European nations have enshrined the male-female definition of marriage in their fundamental law (31) as have redefined marriage (14).


In other words, the overwhelming number of nations in Europe, by a ratio of more than two to one, still understand marriage to require a man and woman.


So what about the rest of the world? Across the globe there only 26 countries out of a total of 192+ countries that allow same-sex marriages.


This means approximately 87 percent of the countries of the world still define marriage as a union between a man and a woman only!


World Congress of Families XII


Having recently returned from Moldova where I presented at the World Congress of Families XII, I was impressed by the enthusiasm I found for a strong defense of marriage and family from our host, the president of Moldova himself, Igor Dodon.


In fact, I had a chance to present President Dodon with a copy of my book, “Stand for the Family: A Call to Responsible Citizen’s Everywhere,” which has an entire chapter on defending marriage that I hope he will find useful.


Political, religious and community leaders from over 40 countries participated in WCF XII, coming together to reaffirm the vital importance of marriage and family to every society and to work together to preserve these vital institutions in our respective nations.


We all came away with a renewed sense of hope and optimism as the East and West came together in this important cause.


It was also announced that WCF XIII will be held in Verona, Italy March 29-31, 2019.


We hope you will mark your calendars now and prepare to join us at the World Congress of Families in Verona!