Interview with Anton Chromík

»We need Family Mainstreaming«

In Slovakia the Alliance for the Family fights for a constitutional referendum in favour of families. President Kiska seeks to undermine it. Speaker Anton Chromík gives background information.

von What is the Alliance for the Family? What do you do?

Anton Chromík: The Alliance for the Family (Aliancia za rodinu) is a civil initiative of organizations and individuals, which was established in December 2013 to promote the values of marriage and family. It is not bound to any ideology, religion or political party and is open to all organizations, individuals, groups, institutions, communities or other groupings of citizens that agree with the declaration of the Alliance.

The Alliance is currently supported by 109 organizations dedicated to social work, to helping families, children from orphanages, youth, single mothers and the handicapped, to educational activities, as well as to the protection and promotion of human rights.

Organizations associated with the Alliance represent more than 250,000 citizens of Slovakia, ranking from pupils attending high school and university students to active retirees, businessmen, academics and others.

The ambition of the Alliance for Family is to spread its ideas and to get support from a broad spectrum of organizations with a vision to create a massive society-wide movement that will stand for marriage and family, for their importance and uniqueness. On August 27, 400.000 signatures in favour of a constitutional referendum to support marriage were handed to the president. How did this come?

Anton Chromík: The petition, signed by 408.320 Slovakian citizens (aproximatelly ten percent of all voters), was presented to President Kiska on August 27, only four months and a half since the launch of the signature-collection. This is a unique, important achievement in the 20-year long history of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic.

This referendum does not steal anyone‘s rights. We want the fathers and mothers in our country to freely express what they think is best for their children. We think that the family must stay on top of the scale of our values, without a doubt. A high number of international institutions and court rulings are influenced by an ideological perception of the family that is not natural, in our opinion. Nobody has asked the people what they think about it. We want everyone to be given the possibility of expressing their opinion. What happened with these signatures?

Anton Chromík: Andrej Kiska has decided to submit the four questions of the referendum to the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic to examine their appropriateness. How do you judge that president Andrej Kiska has asked the constitutional court to check whether a referendum would be according to the constitution?

Anton Chromík: It is the first time in history of the Slovak Republic. We have had seven referendums in our history – and this petition that calls for a referendum, for the first time in history of Slovak Republic, is not organized by a political party. President Andrej Kiska used his power in bad way, against the people that is, according to our constitution, the basis of all state power. This has happened for the first time, and this is an unbelievable rejection of the will of the people.

The president expressed his doubts that the petition might be a violation of basic rights. But what does he mean? A registered partnership for same-sex couples does not exist in Slovak Republic. Neither there is a right for same-sex couples of adopting children. People have right to say what they want in Slovak Republic, but president Kiska did not listen to them. Since September 1, the constitution says that marriage means a tie between a man and a woman. So, what ist he campaign all about?

Anton Chromík: We have proposed four questions. The first one was basically solved by the adoption of the forementioned principle into our constitution. We supported this change with 200.000 signatures. We have spoken to members of parliament and presented our ideas of what we think should be the next steps. We have made a proposal, which can solve other three important questions related to the adoption of children, special rights to marriage, not demanding of sexual education against will of children and parents. However, we have not succeded. Therefore a referendum is needed.

We receive massive support of the people which is visible from the most recent representative survey carried out by a prestigious agency in September 2014. According to the results, 89,3 per cent of respondents agree that no other form of partnership but a bond among one man and one woman can be called marriage. Disagreement was expressed by 10,7 per cent.

The question »Do you agree that pairs or groups of persons of the same sex should not be attributed the right to adopt and educate children?« had a supportive answer by 76,4 per cent of respondents. 20,6 per cent of all respondents disagreed.

»Do you agree that no other form of partnership except marriage should be attributed special protection, rights and duties that are currently attributed by legal norms valid on 1/3/2014 exclusively to marriage?« Answer »yes« to this question was given by 76,4 per cent of respondents, 23,6 per cent answered »no«.

The last question submitted for the referendum on the protection of family focuses on the right of parents to educate their children. The question reads: »Do you agree that schools could not demand participation of children on education in the area of sexual behaviour or euthanasia, if their parents or children themselves do not agree with the content of education?« 68,2% of respondents agreed, 31,8 per cent did not.

We are sure that the result of the referendum will have a positive outcome for the family, but we have asked for help with campaign. We need to mobilise 50 per cent of all voters to take part in the referendum to be legally valid. According to the results of the survey, 45,5 per cent of respondents would most probably participate, hesitation was shown by 28,5 per cent of respondents and negative response was given by 26 per cent of respondents. We need a good campaign to persuade another 5 per cent of voters to come and vote. Good ideas are welcome.

To achieve a valid referendum is not our main goal. It is only a tool. Our main goal is changing the attitudes of concrete people. We want to give them the opportunity to make their decision. We want to talk with them and present arguments for our standpoint. As we can see from the experiences in other countries, waiting for the other side to act and repeatedly put pressure on the status quo is not a rational and effective way of dealing with the issue. Your proposal deals with same-sex marriage and adoption, with marriage, sexual education and euthanasia. What are the ties that hold these topics together?

Anton Chromík: Family. All questions are tied by family. We are not fighting against homosexual people! We only want to express the fact that marriage is the best environment for upbringing of children and that the purpose of marriage cannot be separated from children, from motherhood and fatherhood. Marriage grants that every child will have a mother and a father. Nothing is more important for children than mother and father. Critics say that these topics affect human rights and therefore no respective proposal should be made use of in a referendum. What do you answer them?

Anton Chromík: Marriage is not for fun! The purpose of marriage is not egoistic. Marriage exists for giving of life and for the best care and education of children. Love is not egoistic. The reason why we can not accept same-sex marriages is not hate. It is not about homosexual people. We accept that homosexual people have dignity and we respect this human dignity of them. Many times there is hard harm and pain in their lives. We must try to help them with dialog, providing of community. We are not more valuable than homosexual people.

But marriage is unique, and that is the truth. Love without truth can not exist. We have the right to marriage. But there is no right to change the meaning of marriage. Losing the meaning of marriage causes losing of love and in the long run leads to a serious harm of children. International courts say very clearly that there is no human right for a gay marriage or for the adoptions of children by homosexuals. There is no right of people for adoption, but there is a right of children to have mother and father. In recent years, gay marriage has been established in many European countries. Why should Slovakian civil law not be modernized in the same way?

Anton Chromík: We do not agree that this is modernization. We think that in many European countries we are loosing family values. Relationships in families have become less important – and that causes increased numbers of suicides, divorces, children without meaning of life. This is because love is not sex, but sex must be always be the expression of love. Who teaches this today? Who in our countries talks about the fact that children need mum and dad forever? That we must sacrifice ourselves for children? How many children of the richest countries of the world are the pooriest ones for love of their parents? After this huge massive tragedy of children there is temptation to say: Children do not neccessarily need mother and father! But this is only big lie before our conscience. After that, many people do not see a difference between between these families and same-sex couples.

But there is big difference against divorces. Nobody wants his/her child to grow up without father or mother, but it happens and it is tragedy. But even after a divorce a child does not loose its parents. But in gay couples there is a clear cynical plan to exclude father or mother from relationship with children. Who thinks of the needs of the child? There are only interests of adults! There is Pandora‘s box opened to manufacture of children, misuse of poor women in India for surrogacy maternity and so on. Against this we hold, again: Every child in the world should have mother and father. When do you think will the referendum be held?

Anton Chromík: I hope the Constitutional Court will declare that the people are able to decide about these things. With all respect, I do not see no one with enough legitimacy to declare the values of the family but the people itself. Even the Constitutional Court has no right to take a decision against the will of the people.

There are amicus briefs – experts‘ notes – from many constitutional lawyers, famous international advocates such as the Alliance Defending Freedom that the questions submitted are constitutional. There is a 60-days-period for decision, but our Constitutional court is not fully engaged in this matter due to serious conflict between president and parliament. It is very hard to predict the time of decision. What will you do if it is being declined?

Anton Chromík: With no delay, we will start a petition to the parliament for changing of our Constitution. There is no legitimacy for making of decisions against the will of the people and for change of status quo in our country by courts decision. The elite must serve to people, not intrude culture revolution. We will press on our politicians to focus all policies to family. More than gender mainstreaming we need family mainstreaming. If your readers have good ideas for campaign, measure how to help families or want to support us, we appreciate it. Thank you very much for the interview.

You may read this interview in German as well.

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