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Romania: Broadcast of same-sex marriage debate interrupted

September 29, 2018

FILE - In this Saturday, June 9, 2018 file photo, two girls kiss holding a rainbow flag during the gay pride parade in Bucharest, Romania. Romania's top court has ruled that gay couples should have the same family rights as heterosexuals, a judgment that comes before a referendum seeking to ban same-sex marriage. The Constitutional Court has ruled that same-sex couples have the same rights to a private and family life as heterosexuals. Teodora Ion-Rotaru, of the gay rights group Accept, told The Associated Press on Friday, Sept. 28 the ruling was "extremely important." (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s national broadcaster apologized Saturday after a studio camera operator interrupted a live TV debate on a referendum seeking to ban same-sex marriage.

TVR1 said sorry to viewers after a broadcast was interrupted when a technical staff member used “inappropriate language,” during a Friday evening discussion between a spokesman supporting the referendum and a gay rights activist.

There is heated debate in Romania before the Oct. 6-7 referendum, which is seeking to limit the constitutional definition of family to heterosexual, married couples. The constitution currently says marriage is a union of spouses. Romania doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage or grant legal protection to same-sex couples.

Romanian Orthodox Church Patriarch Daniel called on voters to approve the amendment. He called the referendum “a patriotic.... and profound democratic act” that was designed to preserve marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

The patriarch also criticized what he alleged were efforts to get Romanians to boycott the vote, which he said was “an unjust denigration of the referendum.” The church does not have authority to sanction marriages legally, but has influence in the socially conservative nation.

In an important development, Romania’s Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that same-sex couples should have the same family and legal rights as opposite-sex couples.

The referendum needs a 30-percent turnout to be valid.

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