President Andrej Kiska has announced a referendum on issues concerning gay rights and education, after Alliance for the Family, a group of Christian activists, gathered 408,000 signatures in favor of the referendum and the Slovak Constitutional Court approved three of the four questions.

Slovak citizens will be deciding if couples or groups of persons of the same sex may adopt and educate children. They will also have opportunity to vote on whether the term "marriage" exclusively applies to heterosexual couples. The third proposal concerns whether schools are able to require students to participate in classes that teach sex education or the euthanasia debate. The judges did declare unconstitutional the poll question that asked if only married couples should be afforded special protections, rights and obligations.

President Kiska has previously stated that in the upcoming referendum, he will vote for banning both marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. Slovakia, unlike many other European countries, still has not introduced the possibility of registered partnerships, and last June the Slovak Parliament added a provision into the Constitution that defines marriage as is a union between a man and a woman.

"Where's Mommy?"

The referendum has created a buzz among the media. Last week, Slovak television stations refused to broadcast a spot by Alliance for the Family that the group had intended to air during the campaign. In the commercial, an "aunt" in an orphanage tells a child that new parents are coming for him. After two men appear at the door, the boy asks, "Where's Mommy?" This spot eventually appeared only on the Internet.

The result of the referendum, and thus the extent of gay rights and liberal education in schools in the future, depends heavily on the participation of the electorate. For the national vote to become valid, an absolute majority of citizens must participate. Six of the popular votes in the modern history of Slovakia have failed because this turnout requirement was not met.