by Hilary White
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Parliamentarians in Slovakia enshrined marriage as a “unique bond between a man and a woman” in the country’s Constitution May 4, with 102 National Council members backing the amendment, 18 opposing it, and three abstentions.
The amendment was brought to the National Council by the Christian Democrats, and supported by the government, despite the latter being led by the socialist SMER party. A government spokesman told a press conference that the proposal simply upholds the existing situation.
“The marriage amendment will not bring about any drastic changes, it only seals in the constitution what is already defined by law,” said Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, according to AFP.
The amendment was accompanied by an explanatory document for legislators that said the addition to the law was necessary. According to a translation by homosexual activist group ILGA Europe, the document said, “It is impossible to establish the rights and duties associated with marriage in any other way.”
ILGA Europe, which is funded by the EU, complained that the agreement between SMER and the Christian Democrats amounted to political opportunism by Prime Minister Fico, who is looking towards an upcoming election. However, ILGA Europe noted that nearly 67 percent of the Slovak population is Catholic.
J.C. von Krempach, a lawyer who works with the European Centre for Law and Justice, wrote at the Turtle Bay and Beyond blog that Slovakia’s amendment is part of a growing movement in some European countries pushing back against the advance of an ideology opposed to ancient societal norms. He said this movement is intended to help establish a principle that has, until very recently, been so universally accepted that it never needed any explicit statement.
“Since the origins of human civilization until about ten years ago,” von Krempach wrote, “it was clear to everyone that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that same-sex ‘marriages’ therefore cannot exist. No one should therefore be surprised that in the constitutional laws of most countries there is no definition of marriage – it simply was not needed.”
“With the adoption, by a small but growing number of countries, of legislation that allows for same-sex ‘marriages’, the once universal moral and legal consensus on marriage has been destroyed,” he added.
Slovakia, von Krempach said, is one of the states, typically of Eastern Europe, that are pushing back by making those ancient unwritten assumptions explicit in their constitutions “in order to protect society against attempts of international institutions (such as the UN, the EU, or the European Human Rights Court) to impose on them a new concept of marriage and family from the outside.”
As of February, eight EU member states had adopted “same sex marriage” laws -Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, England, Spain, France, and Portugal. Slovakia makes the eighth to have enacted laws specifically to counter this trend. The others are Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Croatia.
When the amendment was announced, ILGA Europe issued a press release that also noted this counter-trend in some EU countries. “While Europe at large is moving towards increasing legal recognition and social acceptance of LGBTI families, Slovakia seems to be leaning towards the opposite trend of limitations, restrictions and discrimination,” said Gabi Calleja, co-chair of the organization’s executive board.
Paulo Côrte-Real, the executive board’s other co-chair, said, “Recent and similarly restrictive constitutional amendments in Latvia, Hungary and Croatia demonstrated they are sponsored by religious extremists and ultra-conservatives who do not hesitate to abuse such democratic tools as constitutional amendments or referenda to pursue their narrow homophobic agenda.”
But von Krempach countered that in all their statements, ILGA Europe and their parliamentary supporters have yet to offer a consistent legal justification either for the existence of “same-sex marriage” or for calling it a right.
ILGA Europe, he wrote, “offers no consistent theory on the essence and purpose of marriage – therefore it has no argument why sexual relationships between persons of the same sex should qualify as ‘marriage,’ given that they do not, through procreation and the raising of children, provide a contribution to the common good.”
He pointed to the press release opposing the Slovak constitutional amendment as a case in point, highlighting the language as a plain case of “hate speech” and ad hominem attack against political opponents.
Roger Kiska, the EU representative of the Alliance Defending Freedom, also raised this point in a letter to ILGA Europe. Kiska said the statement was nothing more than an expression of ILGA’s “contempt, intolerance and disrespectful discourse towards Christians and those organizations and politicians who genuinely work on behalf of the family.”
“Using press releases to vilify individuals and organisations for defending conjugal marriage as being homophobic, extremist or ultra-conservative closes the door on any meaningful debate regarding the proper meaning and place of marriage in society,” Kiska said.