Slovakia has passed a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.
The parliament of the Central European country overwhelmingly voted for the ban, with 102 of its 150 members voting in its favor. Only 18 voted against the ban, with the rest abstaining.
A two-thirds majority was needed to pass the ban, meaning if only three fewer parliament members had voted in its favor, the measure would have failed. It was primarily supported by the ruling Smer-Social Democracy party and the Christian Democrats party.
According to Gay Star News, political observers are calling the ban a populist bid by Prime Minister Robert Fico, who lost the race for president of the country in March 2014. (In Slovakia, the Prime Minister is the head of government, but only the third highest constitutional official—the President is first, and the Speaker of the National Council is second.)
Slovakia does not provide any legal recognition for same-sex couples, and they are banned from adopting children. However, homosexual activity is legal and the age of consent is equal to that of heterosexuals. In addition, orientation is not a barrier to serving in Slovakia’s armed forces, and sexuality is covered under anti-discrimination laws.
In 2012, an opinion poll found that 47 percent of people in the predominantly Roman Catholic country supported legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples, and only 38 percent were opposed, with the rest undecided.
Slovakia legalized homosexuality in 1962, when it and the nation currently known as the Czech Republic were the single country Czechoslovakia. Since then, though, the former union has taken different paths—the Czech Republic, which introduced civil unions for same-sex couples in 2006, is one of the more LGBT-friendly countries in Central Europe. Additionally, unlike in Slovakia, the Czech Republic allows transgender people to legally and surgically change their sex.