Slovenians overturned a law allowing same-sex marriages in a referendum Sunday, marking a triumph for the conservative opposition over the leftist governing bloc.
With nearly all the ballots counted, 63.4 per cent had voted against an amendment to the country's family law defining marriage as a union of two people, as opposed to the union of a man and woman.
The result exceeded the required support of 20 per cent of the 1.7 million registered voters comfortably, by some 40,000 ballots. Turnout was 36 per cent.
"We protected our children and will continue to be happy mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers," a leader in the camp against gay marriages, Metka Zevmnik, said after the result.
Her camp said it will draft a bill proposing to improve the status of same-sex couples, but without marriage equality.
The rival, pro-gay marriage group voiced disappointment and promised to press for a return of a law allowing marriage, the STA news agency reported.
Prime Minister Miro Cerar's Modern Centre Party, which had advocated in favour of same-sex marriage, "will continue fighting for an inclusive society," legislator Sasa Tabakovic said.
The Pensioners Party, a junior side in the governing coalition, voiced disappointment with "failure to support equality."
"Human rights are being wiped out one after another. First it was labour, now gay rights," the United Left legislator Violeta Tomic said. Her party is not in the governing coalition, but has supported same-sex marriages.
Slovenia had introduced the amendment allowing gay couples to marry in March. Opponents, rallying around the slogan "Children are at Stake," and supported by the dominant Catholic Church, petitioned for a referendum against the measure within a week of the change in law.
With a majority of the 617,246 votes now counted, so far the country has recorded 225,428 Yes votes (36,52%) in favour of equal marriage, and 391.818 No votes (63,48%) opposed.
Slovenian state election commission : http://www.volitve.gov.si/referendum/index.html (Slovenian language)
Local media (Slovenian language)
March 2015: Slovenian parliament backs gay marriage
November 2015: Group ‘Children Are At Stake’ gathered 40,000 signatures needed to call for the referendum against it