Pope Francis gave his blessing on Wednesday to a referendum that would ban marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in Slovakia, which will be voted on this Saturday.
Slovakia is the latest battleground over LGBT family rights in Europe, which is increasingly divided between east and west. Slovakia’s parliament actually added language denying marriage recognition to same-sex couples to the country’s constitution in June, making it one of four countries in Eastern Europe to do so since 2012. The first of three questions before voters on Saturday’s ballot, which asks if marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman, won’t change the legal status quo in Slovakia. But the second question would also ban adoption for same-sex couples, and the third allows parents to withdraw their children from sexual education classes.
It is not unusual for popes to comment on domestic political debates around the world, and these remarks are consistent with the church’s long-standing opposition to family rights for same-sex couples, which has not changed under his papacy even though he has generally sought a less confrontational tone to engaging with LGBT people. But his remarks come as the Slovakian church has been under criticism from the country’s LGBT rights supporters, who say the church is to blame for the recent push against LGBT rights in the country. Read more