A constitutional referendum in Romania which sought to establish an anti-LGBTI definition of family was held over the weekend, but was voided after turnout was too low.

The referendum would have seen the same-sex marriage effectively banned in the country, where it is already illegal.

After polls closed on Sunday it was reported that turnout of voters sat at just 20.41 per cent, having needed at least 30 per cent turnout to be valid.

The BBC reported that prior to the weekend vote, polls were indicating that 90 per cent of voters supported the change.

The president of the anti-LGBTI Coalition for Family said they had called for the referendum “to protect, at a constitutional level, the definition of marriage – between one woman and one man.”

Campaigners on the No side – here the pro-marriage equality contingent – had advocated for those against the measure to boycott the vote in the hopes the turnout fell low enough to invalidate the result.

Polling had suggested a prospective turnout of around 34 per cent of voters.

The failure of the vote doesn’t have a significant immediate effect since same-sex couples have access to neither marriage nor civil unions in Romania, though government members have indicated a push for the latter.

The Save Romania Party opposed the referendum and was the only political party to do so, with the governing Social Democrats in favour.

The measure had already passed both chambers of parliament, with the referendum the last element needed to cement the ban.

One member of Save Romania called on the government to resign over “wasting €40m of public money on a fantasy.”

The referendum was nevertheless opposed by the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis.

Romania nevertheless has some of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in Europe.

Anti-LGBTI groups doubled down and said they will try again, but advocates hailed the referendum’s failure.

“It is a victory for Romanian democracy and, moreover, Romanians rejected the involvement of the Orthodox Church in the state’s secular affairs,” said advocacy group MozaiQ spokesperson Vlad Viski.

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