Slovenia votes for same-sex marriage law

LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA: Slovenia on Sunday held a referendum on whether to give same-sex couples the right to marry and to adopt children, its second vote on gay rights in three years.

Parliament passed a law in March giving same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children but the measures have not been enforced yet because a civil society group called For Children appealed to the top court, calling for a referendum.

In another referendum in 2012, almost 55 percent of voters in the European Union member state and ex-Yugoslav republic opposed giving more rights to same-sex couples, including the right to adopt the children of their partners.

The law will be overturned on the joint conditions that the majority of participants in the referendum reject it and that they make up at least 20 percent of all registered voters. Latest opinion polls showed that the result, which is expected late on Sunday, will be tight.

"My wife and I married three years ago while my brother cannot do that only because he loves a person of the same sex. That does not seem right to me. My family accepted my brother and now it is time for us to do that as a society," said Tilen Blazic, who will vote to support the law.

The government supports the new law and did not participate in the referendum campaign. The main opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), is against the law.

"We are against the law that would deny the basic right of a child to have a mother and a father," For Children said on its website.

The small Alpine state of 2 million citizens is relatively tolerant of gay couples who have been able to formally register their relationship since 2006.

A number of EU states have legally recognised same-sex marriages, including Britain, France and Spain, but the issue remains contentious in many other EU states.