Daily Dispatches
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico
GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico

New EU members are taking a traditional stand on marriage

Marriage

Same-sex marriage is illegal in Slovakia, a former Russian republic surrounded by Austria, Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary, but a majority of the country’s parliamentarians want a constitutional amendment to rule out the possibility of legalizing it in the future.

Efforts to adopt a constitutional amendment in Slovakia upholding the traditional definition of marriage hit a snag April 15 after the speaker of parliament convened a meeting of parliamentary caucuses and judiciary representatives to discuss the amendment. The gathering failed to reach a concrete decision, according to the Slovak Spectator, and the next session is scheduled for April 25.

Efforts to defend traditional marriage in Slovakia are part of a larger trend—little noted in the West—among countries that recently joined the European Union, or are cementing closer ties to the organization. Croatia, the EU’s newest member, has backed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In Georgia, a country on the verge of closer ties with the EU, the prime minister proposed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage earlier this month.

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Of the 13 countries that have joined the EU since 2004, nine either do not legally recognize same-sex marriages, have outlawed same-sex marriage, or have constitutions that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

But same-sex marriages are gaining ground elsewhere in Europe. As of March 28, they are legally recognized in England and Wales. And while France legalized same-sex marriage last year, thousands upon thousands marched in protest, as recently as February, opposing it.

If Slovakia’s amendment passes, it and other countries in Europe will have started a new trend: support for traditional marriage. Slovakia’s ruling Smer party and the opposing Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) drafted the proposed amendment, according to the Christian Institute. A 2011 Slovakian census reported 70 percent of the country’s 5.4 million people consider themselves Christian. The amendment, which defines marriage as “a unique union between one man and one woman,” was backed by 103 out of 126 members of parliament present for its first reading.

“The marriage amendment will not bring about any drastic changes; it only seals in the constitution what is already defined by law,” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said in an article published by the Christian Institute.

With a newly elected president and continued discussion among lawmakers who normally oppose one another, Slovakia’s potential amendment may have stalled but seems likely to pass eventually.

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