Slovakia, the country of increasing tolerance? – Martin Snopek, Slovakia

Some time before, we informed you about referendum that was held in Slovakia on February 7th. Now, we have the results.

The referendum was initiated by Alliance For Family. It was composed of 3 questions:

  1. Do you agree that only a bond between one man and one woman can be called marriage?
  2. Do you agree that same-sex couples or groups should not be allowed to adopt and raise children
  3. Do you agree that schools cannot require children to participate in education pertaining to sexual behaviour or euthanasia if they or their parents don’t agree?

It was clear to everybody that the first two questions were especially focused on rights of same-gender couples. LGBT community took this as attack and also knew that this referendum could change their rights for many decades, thus, the fight began.

Alliance for Family was often blamed for outrageous statements and advertisement. One of their biggest supporters were churches, where the advertising of the referendum also took place. At the wall of St. Martin’s Church – one of the best known historical and cultural heritages in Slovakia – appeared as large poster that was supporting this referendum and appealed citizens to “vote for” their side.

The strategy of group against this referendum was completely different. In every plebiscit, there are people that are not using their right to vote. And since in Slovakia, referendum is only valid if half of the eligible citizens take part in the vote, community against referendum decided to take it as their advantage. They started to appeal to people to not go vote, and to boycott the referendum.

The result? Nobody has won. Only 21.41% of citizens had voted! And since this was the aim of LGBT community, we could say they won. By not voting, the voice of the people sent the message of tolerance.

The results made me proud of my country and it’s citizens. And what is even more important, the society and politics has started to be much more interested in the problems faced by the LGBT community and their rights!

Unfortunately, this incident has also had a negative impact on society. Families have been divided into two groups – supporters and opponents. My family, for example, also argued about this topic. And though the referendum is over, our family is still not what it had been before. As our president, Andrej Kiska, said in his statement, “Nobody can consider it as victory if one of the results of referendum is that families, friends, homes, workplaces and temples are also in the middle of disagreement. I hope it will not last as long as it seemed to us before the referendum, until many of people will refind their way to each other and until they will start to talk to each other as they used to  before.” He ended his speech with “Slovakia belongs to each of us equally.” I hope so.

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