Romania: Broadcast of same-sex marriage debate interrupted

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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