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Slovak Lawmakers Approve Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Slovakia’s parliament approved a constitutional ban of same-sex marriages, following some of its east European peers with Catholic majorities, as premier Robert Fico seeks boost support among conservative voters.

Lawmakers in Bratislava, Slovakia voted 102 to 18 with three abstentions for the amendment that defines a marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. The bill was jointly proposed by the ruling socialist Smer party and the Christian Democrats, its largest opposition rival, and backed by seven lawmakers from other parties.

Slovakia, where Roman Catholics represent 62 percent of population according to a 2011 census, is deviating from a majority of European Union countries that allow marriage or civil unions for people of the same sex. Fico is following eastern European peers Poland and Croatia, which have enacted similar bans, as he seeks to gain popularity after losing a presidential election in March to philanthropist Andrej Kiska.

“The move goes against the EU trend and the typical ideology of a socialist party,” Grigorij Meseznikov, Director of the Institute for Public Affairs in Bratislava, said by phone. “You could hardly imagine that socialists would propose it elsewhere in Europe. It’s a populist move by Fico.”

The amendment also includes changes to the judicial system, including a compulsory review of existing judges, which have been criticized by other parties as prone to abuse.

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