28 Romanian and International human rights organizations criticize the initiative to amend the definition of family in the Romanian Constitution
Amnesty International: “This pattern is really worrying”
Press release – July 18th, 2016
24 NGOs in Romania and 4 international human rights organizations have asked the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) reject the initiative which aims to restrict the definition of family, by amending Article 48 (1) of the Romanian Constitution to refer to family as marriage between a man and a woman. The signatory organizations consider the initiative in violation to constitutional provisions and international law standards, standards that Romania has undertaken to respect. The initiative to redefine the family in the Constitution from a religious perspective belongs to the Coalition for Family and aims to restrict the right to private and family life of all those who are single parents or families based on heterosexual couples who are not married, and families based on same sex couples, thereby infringing the principle of equality and non-discrimination.
Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, ILGA-Europe, the European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law also support the position of the NGOs in Romania, by submitting a separate legal opinion to the Court. On July 20th, CCR is to decide whether the initiative to restrict the definition of family meets the criteria by which to change the country’s fundamental law.
“Through our intervention, we ask the Constitutional Court, the institution invested as the guarantor of the Constitution supremacy, to reject this initiative ending a pointless manipulative exercise which generates hatred in our society. This Coalition for Family initiative is an abuse of law. It proposes a restrictive definition for the family as exclusively based on marriage between man and woman for the purpose of procreation. Therefore, the initiative is prohibited under the rules governing constitutional revisions, because the result will be the suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals (LGBT),” said Romaniţa Iordache, Vice President of the ACCEPT Association. ACCEPT sent CCR an amicus curie that presents arguments of European law and comparative constitutional law, showing how family and marriage have evolved in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) jurisprudence.
ILGA-Europe: “International human rights law is crystal clear: LGBTI people are entitled to be protected against discrimination. The European Court of Human Rights has very recently pointed out the vulnerable position that LGBTI people are currently in within Romanian society. Marriage between different-sex partners will not be furthered in any way by this proposal – the only consequences will be to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, specifically list such discrimination in the Romanian constitution and raise further stigmatisation and hostility. ”
ICJ (with approval from ECSOL): “The International Commission of Jurists jointly with our partners have made their observations available to the Constitutional Court in this matter because we consider it an issue of critical importance. The Constitutional Court is called upon to consider whether the proposed constitutional revision as currently formulated is consistent with Romania’s obligation under international human rights law to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, including the right to be free from discrimination, the right to equality before law and equal protection of the law, the right to private and family life.”
Amnesty International: “Amnesty International feels it is truly important to join our efforts with other human rights organisations in this case and put forward legal arguments to the Constitutional Court in defence of the rights of LGBTI people in Romania. We have seen similar developments in other European countries that have led to restricting LGBTI rights, particularly with regards to the right to be free from discrimination, to family life and privacy. This pattern is really worrying. Romania should comply with their obligations under international and regional human rights law to protect the rights of every person and this case is a chance to prove it.”
The Anti-Discrimination Coalition and other NGOs in Romania have also submitted written opinions to CCR, in order to highlight the discriminatory nature of the Coalition for Family initiative.
The organizations that submitted written opinions CCR are listed bellow:
Comisia Internațională a Juriștilor
European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law
Centrul pentru Resurse Juridice
Societatea Academică din România
Institutul pentru Politici Publice
Fundația pentru Dezvoltarea Societății Civile
Centrul Parteneriat pentru Egalitate
Fundaţia Agenţia de Dezvoltare Comunitară “Împreună”
Centrul pentru Inovare Publică
Centrul Euroregional pentru Inițiative Publice
Centrul de Dezvoltare Curriculară și Studii de Gen: FILIA
Asociația Funky Citizens
Asociația Română Anti-SIDA
Centrul de Resurse pentru Participare Publică
Centrul de Studii Juridice și Drepturile Omului
Asociația E-Romnja (Asociația pentru Promovarea Drepturilor Femeilor Rome)
Fundația Romanian Angel Appeal
Asociația Expert Forum
Centrul European pentru Drepturile Copiilor cu Dizabilități
Asociația Umanistă Română
Asociația Secular-Umanistă din România
Centrul Romilor pentru Intervenţie Socială şi Studii – Romani CRISS
Note: written opinions submitted to the Constitutional Court in Romania took the form of three amicus curiae documents. Amicus curiae is the form most often used by various national or international non-governmental organizations, by which they express their views on different aspects involved by court trials, when human rights have been or may be violated or when matters of public interest are involved. Amicus curiae is the form accepted by the courts and constitutional courts of various countries and international tribunals, for example the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.