Two weeks ago at a Sunday Mass, Pope Francis recognized a delegation of Slovaks in the crowd and encouraged their efforts in a national referendum banning same-sex adoption. Just this week, at his weekly audience, Francis did it again.
He said, “I greet the pilgrims from Slovakia and, through them, I wish to express my appreciation to the entire Slovak church, encouraging everyone to continue their efforts in defense of the family, the vital cell of society.”
Last summer, Slovakia became the seventh country of the European Union to ban same-sex marriage. That measure passed the Slovak Parliament overwhelmingly and was supported by the left-wing Social Democrat party.
On Saturday, the people of Slovakia will vote in a nationwide referendum once more to define marriage as between one man and one woman—and also to deny same-sex couples the ability to adopt. The referendum would also give parents the right to keep their children from sex education classes in school.
Though opposite-sex marriage is the existing law in Slovakia, advocates say the referendum is necessary in order to keep the European courts from interfering.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, one of the leaders of the referendum movement accuses the Slovakian government of “subtly” trying to suppress the vote on Saturday. Branislav Skripek, a member of the European Parliament from Slovakia, said the government-run television network refused to run commercials for the pro-referendum group and that two private networks followed suit.
This fits with the tactics of the referendum’s opponents who are urging voters to say home because turnout needs to reach 50% for the results to count. In recent years, three other referenda have failed for lack of turnout and only one — for joining the European Union — met that threshold. Skirpek said, “In order to get a vote on the referendum, we needed 350,000 signatures. We got 408,000.” That would represent 7.5% of Slovakia’s 5.4 million population. A comparable number in the United States would be more than 23 million signatures.
Slovakia is one of seven member states of the European Union to protect man-woman marriage. According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, Slovakia is one of 14 European countries to protect man-woman marriage in their constitutions [not all European countries are members of the European Union].
All told, only 19 countries around the world allow for same-sex marriage.