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2016

2016: Religion and ethics of the family

The question of the family and sexual ethics has been one of the concerns in Slovakia in 2016. It was also one of the trends in the campaign before the national elections.

The Church leaders very often expressed conservative points of view on this matter. In February, the Conference of Slovak Bishops (KBS) presented Ten Points for a better Slovakia, a document for political candidates in the pre-election campaign. One of the points was to refuse the so-called Istanbul Convention against domestic violence and violence against women, claiming that it is an instrument of gender ideology in Europe. KBS also asked that all legislation on the family would include the phrase "the basis of every family is formed through marriage between a man and a woman", and asked for a stricter regulation of abortions. The Church also took position concerning politics: on April 25 the Archbishop of Trnava asked Catholic priests not to support any liberal political party or movement, left or right wing. According to him, liberal parties spread gender ideology, support LGBTI, voluntary termination of pregnancy, and other amoral issues. On September 8-9th two-day of formal discussions were held by the Bishops’ conferences from Central and Eastern Europe, entitled "Migration Crisis and the Family". During the summit the Slovak Parliamentary Speaker Andrej Danko, the head of the Slovak National Party (SNS), claimed that he would try to thwart the introduction of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) values in Slovakia. Danko also declared that “I’m proud to live in a country predominantly inhabited by people of faith and Christian values.” On September 15th, at the occasion of the national Catholic pilgrimage to Šaštín the archbishop Bober criticized in his speech on the family the media, sociologists and others for promoting non-stereotypical model of family. He accused the media of supporting and spreading the so-called gender ideology under which Christians in Slovakia should be excluded in the society.

At the same time, some members of the Slovakian society express promotion of same-sex couples. On July 30, the Rainbow (Dúhový) Pride returned to the streets of the Bratislava, with the goal to render life partnership available for all. This year, the parade was connected with the campaign Life Partnership, aiming at winning the public’s support for legalising same-sex partnerships and their families. As a reaction, the Christian initiative Proud of the Family (Hrdí na rodinu), established by the same people as Alliance for Family and Voice for Family, formed a live chain to support the “traditional family”.

Mid-September, Slovak Christian activists launched a new initiative called Mum, dad and kids against same-sex marriages in the EU. They claim that terms like "marriage between a man and a woman", "family based on marriage" or "parentship and the family relationship between parents and children" should be a baseline for all EU member states. The initiative is connected with the Slovak Alliance for Family which had initiated the referendum on family in 2015. The new initiative is aimed at the individual decision-making of member countries about children’s education and the reduction of divorces in the EU. The system should insert clear, but minimal content that encompasses all terms applicable to all countries in any regulation issued by the UE containing words like marriage or family. The countries could add “additional terms”, including the approval of same-sex marriages. However, the initiative must collect a Million signatures by December 10th, while in seven countries it must meet a certain minimum. Currently, it has more than 100,000 online signatures and about 80,000 signatures on paper. People can support the initiative on the website or use paper forms (source: The Slovak Spectator and Otcamamudetom).

Finally, a young chaplain, Jakub Pavlús, attracted the attention of Slovak media at the beginning of August. His mission in the Evangelical Church in Slovakia (a Lutheran church) was terminated because of his public statement against the referendum on Family in 2015, which he and other signatories deemed intolerant of homosexuals. The bishops of the Slovak Evangelical church considered this approach as inappropriate, and did not prolong his contract with the church. Jakub Pavlús received an important public and mediatic support, and a petition was signed by various personalities including Lutherans. Jakub Pavlús was then accepted for a mission in the Church of Brethren in Czech Republic.

20 October 2016