Romania’s government is reportedly trying to prevent the legalisation of same sex-unions. Its recent moves to re-define “family” were harshly criticised by the human rights group Amnesty International on September 13.

The group was quick to respond to a vote in the senate earlier in the week. Romanian senators voted to revise the country’s constitution so that “family” is defined as being founded by the marriage of “man and a woman” and not between “spouses” as it currently states.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the controversial vote to revise the constitution was pushed by a petition launched by a civic initiative called “The Coalition for Family”. It gathered three million signatures.

“The mooted referendum to change the definition of family in Romania’s constitution could lead to a breach of international human rights standards and pander to homophobic discrimination in the country,” an Amnesty International representative told AFP. “The consequence is likely to be further restrictions of private and family life of same-sex couples and discrimination in every-day life.”

Amnesty International, together with ECSOL (European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law) and ILGA-EUROPE (European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), will be “submitting written comments in an attempt to prevent” the plebiscite, which could “make it impossible to legalise same-sex unions in the future”.

A referendum will take place in Romania on 7 October 2018.