(CNN)Romanians will go to the polls this weekend to vote in a referendum on changing the constitution to redefine marriage as being only between a man and a woman, in a move that opponents warn could breach human rights law and worsen homophobic discrimination.
Romania votes on defining marriage as only between a man and a woman
The vote, over Saturday and Sunday, was prompted by a petition started by an umbrella civil society group called Coalition for the Family and signed by nearly 3 million Romanians.
The constitution currently states that "the family is founded on the freely consented marriage of the spouses, their full equality, as well as the right and duty of the parents to ensure the upbringing, education and instruction of their children," according to a Coalition for the Family translation.
Romanians will vote on whether to narrow that definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman, rather than "spouses."
Coalition for the Family, which describes its members as "upholding Christian and traditional values," argues that the constitutional change is needed to "preserve marriage" and defend the family.
The vote needs a turnout rate of 30%, or more than 5 million people, to be valid, according to Reuters news agency.
Romania, which only decriminalized homosexuality in 2001, does not currently allow same-sex marriage. But the proposed amendment to the constitution is likely to make any future change much more difficult.
More than 40 members of the European Parliament wrote to Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă this week to express their dismay that the referendum was being held at all.
"This redefinition of family has the potential to harm children in all families by promoting the message that single parent families, non-married partners with children, grandparents raising their grandchildren, rainbow families, and all other families that do not fall under the narrow definition proposed by the referendum do not deserve to be recognized and protected," the letter said.
"Allowing this referendum to take place adds validity to anti-LGBTI rhetoric and encourages hate speech and violence against LGBTI individuals. We cannot allow that this legal limbo will place LGBTI individuals, including LGBTI children and children in rainbow families, in a vulnerable position and in flagrant violation of the fu