A Take on Slovakia’s Same-Sex Referendum
*** Do you agree only the union of a man and a woman can be called marriage?
*** Do you agree that it should not be permitted for same-sex couples to adopt children?
*** Should parents have the right to remove their children from sex education in schools?
Last Saturday (07 February), Slovakia held an absurd referendum worthy of praise from only the most religiously political regimes and yet reflects to the European and international publics the mentality of Slovaks when it comes to social acceptability. Although weak participation had been expected since the onset of the referendum idea, organisers nevertheless poured some €6.3 million into the endeavour—adding further absurdity to the poll since it comes at a time of growing unemployment and poverty in the country.
But leave the economic dimensions aside and forget that Slovakia’s tax system is slowly and steadily killing off the country’s entrepreneurial base…it is time to decide on whether the thousands of abandoned children tucked away in orphanages are better off where they currently are or in families with parents that cannot have children on their own? The first option is more of the status quo while the second offers such children life prospects. The referendum was meant to take a back-step and reiterate that in Slovakia a family consists of a husband (male) and wife (female) and only this coupling may have children, irrespective of the type of domestic interaction that unfolds at home; loving and caring or abusive and adulterous. Same-sex couples may not be perfect and there may certainly be cases of neglect and/or violence. But why judge such relationships according to different standards? If there is an orphan and a couple that would happily adopt him or her then that is enough. If there are problems, then the parents – like in any situation – would be held accountable. To suggest that same-sex couples would, de facto, be worse parents is simply wrong. On the contrary, it is likely that same-sex families with the desire but not the faculties to raise a family would make better parents than orphanages do; in Slovakia or elsewhere.
The referendum turnout was a mere 21.41% of the electorate and 78.59% – indicated, through non-participation – that apathy runs the Slovak marathon. Or, perhaps more importantly, Slovaks were saying that human rights and dignity should not be the subject to a referendum. That the worth of a human being and his or her choices should be naturally safeguarded and not up for interpretation. Thankfully, Slovakia has undergone impressive social changes since the end of Communist rule and given the 50%, mark the referendum on life choices in Slovakia is invalid and the Slovak Republic continues to move forward into the new era.