“What you have to understand,” says a man in his late 30s, “is the influence of the Orthodox Church. It’s…” he puts down his beer, searching for the word in English. “Mind control.”
The writer from opendemocracy.net, Sian Norris, mention of the anti-LGBTQ organisation ‘Coalition for Family’ – a self-described “civic initiative…open to those who share the values of the family” – that provokes a heated conversation.
The Coalition is “awful,” says one woman. “They come up with these crazy excuses against gay marriage – saying if we allow this, then people will be able to marry their dogs.”
In November 2015, the Coalition for Family published a ‘Citizen’s Initiative’ – the first step in a system that allows Romanian citizens to “directly participate in the law-making process.” It demanded that the constitution be changed to define marriage as between a man and woman exclusively (it currently uses the gender-neutral wording ‘two spouses’).
ADF International, the global wing of the controversial U.S legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has also supported the referendum campaign. In April, it co-hosted a “referendum for the family” conference at the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest, along with the Coalition for Family.