Plea for gay adoptions referendum taken to ECHR

Aleš Primc and Metka Zevnik, leaders of the Children Are at Stake Coalition, with a sign reading
Aleš Primc and Metka Zevnik, the leaders of the Children Are at Stake Coalition. Photo: STA

A conservative group that has been campaigning against gay marriage and adoptions for years has turned to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after being prevented to hold a referendum on the issue.

The group, called Children Are at Stake Coalition, sought a referendum on a law codifying same-sex marriage and adoptions that was passed by the National Assembly in October 2022.

However, the National Assembly passed a resolution declaring such a referendum inadmissible on the grounds that it would challenge a piece of legislation that ends discrimination against LGBT+ persons.

Aleš Primc and Metka Zevnik, the co-leaders of the Children Are at Stake Coalition, then turned to the Constitutional Court, asking it to quash the National Assembly’s decision to ban the referendum.

In a ruling announced in January this year, Slovenia’s top court upheld the inadmissibility of such a referendum.

This was no surprise because it was the court itself which legalised same-sex marriage and adoptions with immediate effect in July 2022, ordering the legislator to amend the family code accordingly.

In its application to the ECHR, submitted on 16 March, the Children Are at Stake Coalition argues that the adoption of children into same-sex families is not a human right.

They say that by bringing the case before the ECHR they are defending democracy in the country. Their concern is that the amended family code will lead to “attempts to introduce LGBT+ ideology into the education system”.

The group plans to invoke Articles 6 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that is the right to a fair trial and the right to an effective remedy.

They argue the Constitutional Court failed to address the key question of whether the legislative changes passed in fact went beyond what had been demanded by the court by “extending the diction on adoption or marriage to education, health, social affairs”.

Primc claims the Constitutional Court panel included a judge who featured as an activist in the 2012 referendum campaign on the topic.

Primc, who also spearheaded the 2012 referendum at which a previous attempt to expand the rights of same-sex couples was rejected, is confident the ECHR will establish “this trial was completely unfair”.

He believes the group will succeed in their appeal with the ECHR and that a second referendum will “demonstrate in a massive way that a child needs a mother and a father”.