Representatives of the government and the governing parties brought up a hotly debated topic on public agenda on Monday: a planned referendum to redefine marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Also on Monday, the leader of the governing Social Democrats, Liviu Dragnea, announced interest in discussion of another polarising topic - the introduction of civil partnerships.

First deputy PM Paul Stanescu said early today that talks would be held to possibly organise a referendum on the definition of marriage in May this year. The referendum has been called by a large coalition of conservative organisations, which collected millions of signatures in support of their claim that marriage should be constitutionally defined as a union between a man and a woman.

  • In Romania, same sex marriage is not recognised officially, but the Constitution currently defines marriage as a union between people, not mentioning gender.
  • The petition was subsequently accepted by the governing PSD party. However, it has so far delayed a proper debate on the issue and the organisation of a referendum in this regard. Stanescu's statement was the first in a long time to propose a deadline for such a referendum.

Later on Monday, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who leads ALDE, another party of the governing coalition, said that a referendum on redefining the family has to be organised. But he said Romania would not become less liberal as a result, as "we also consider giving a legal framework to civil partnership" to "provide some comfort to those belonging to other types of minorities".

Meanwhile, Liviu Dragnea, House speaker and leader of the PSD, said he wanted to analyse "the opportunity to give legal framework to a certain type of civil partnership", as "there is a minority which we cannot pretend that we can't see or that it didn't exist".

The Patriarchy of the Romanian Orthodox Church was quick to dismiss the proposal on civil partnership, calling it "an alternative form to marriage". Meanwhile, an association fighting for gender rights, Accept, said such a partnership would end "the suffering and humiliation the LGBTI community has to face".