A national referendum in Slovenia has rejected a new family law that included a clause to allow same-sex couples to adopt children under certain circumstances.

Had the law been passed, it would have allowed gay couples to adopt the biological children of their partner, but would not have allowed them to adopt children of a third party. The law was initially drafted by Slovenia’s previous, left-wing government.

About 55 per cent of the votes counted in the referendum rejected the law. This rejection is something of a double blow, as a new family law cannot be drafted for another year.

Conservative Catholic, Serbian Orthodox and Muslim communities in Slovenia got together and signed a petition prior to the referendum, asking their fellow Slovenians to reject the law, stating: “Marriage and family are of utmost importance for the development of the human person and society.

“For this reason, we all have an obligation to protect the values of marriage and of family as a community of a husband and a wife, and children.”

Ironically, Slovenia has allowed official registration of same-sex relationships since 2006 and is seen as a relative haven of tolerance in the Balkans.

Last week the European Court of Human Rights rejected a case brought by a French lesbian couple who wished to have the right to jointly adopt in France
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Same sex couples have been able to jointly adopt in the UK since 2007.