BUCHAREST, June 11, 2013 (AFP) - Romanian lawmakers on Tuesday voted against an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage which had angered rights groups and drawn criticism at home and abroad.
A parliamentary committee tasked with amending the 1991 Constitution last week passed an article restricting the legal definition of marriage to a "union between a man and a woman".
The article supported by the dominant Orthodox Church was blasted by rights groups, including Amnesty International.
Centre-left Prime Minister Victor Ponta said he did not see the need for a change to the current definition of marriage as "a union between spouses" and called for a new vote in the committee.
Ponta pointed to neighbouring Hungary, where a similar amendment by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government triggered sharp criticism from the European Commission, although he said he did not himself back same-sex marriage.
After heated debates, the committee rejected the controversial amendment.
Sexual minorities, members of the Roma community and people infected with HIV are the main victims of discrimination in Romania, opinion polls show.
A poll conducted in 2011 found that 73 percent of Romanians would not like to have a homosexual among their relatives and 45 percent among their work colleagues.