The constitution of Slovakia has been amended to define marriage as specifically the “unique bond between a man and a woman”.

MPs from both the SMER (Social Democrats), and the KDH (Christian Democrats), voted for the amendment.

The ruling SMER agreed to the demands of the KDH, so the latter would therefore agree to support a judicial reform. The ruling party had feared the Christian Democrats would oppose the reform, if it did not support the marriage amendment.

Today 102 MPs voted for the amendment, and only 18 voted against.

The amendment specifically bars same-sex relationships to be recognised under the term ‘marriage’, and stops gay and lesbian couples from protections therein by specifying that “it will be impossible for the rights and duties associated with marriage to be conferred in any way other than a legally recognised union between a man and a woman”.

The discussions between the two parties took place behind closed doors, much to the dismay of LGBT rights campaigners.

MPs from other parties were handed a copy of the amendment just hours before its committee stage on 27 May, and no public hearing took place.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted: “This amendment doesn’t ‘defend’ marriage; its sole purpose is to limit the rights of lesbian and gay couples. It will have consequences for all other forms of families, like single parents or unmarried couples.

“I am dismayed by the outcome of the vote, as well as the undemocratic way this backroom deal was struck. This shows how afraid SMER and KDH were of a public discussion—and quite rightly. A public debate would have provoked a loud protest against such a backward move.

“I will show my solidarity by taking part in Bratislava Pride on June 28th.”

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Equality is a defining element of a civilised and inclusive society.

“While in many countries, Social-Democrats were a defining force in fostering equality for all, in Slovakia SMER decided to work with arch-conservatives to populist ends. It’s a disgrace, and they should be ashamed of trampling the very values they claim to defend.”