By Associated Press - Tuesday, October 2, 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - A Romanian church has criticized a referendum seeking to ban same-sex marriage, saying the government is trying to divert voters’ attention from other issues.

The Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession, a German-speaking Protestant group, said Tuesday that marriage was clearly defined in civil law.

It said the purpose of the Oct. 6-7 referendum was to “distract attention from (government) corruption, violation of the justice system…. and hostility toward the European Union and democracy.”

The referendum seeks to limit the constitutional definition of family to heterosexual, married couples. The constitution says marriage is a union of spouses. Romania doesn’t recognize same-sex couples.

The church has about 5,300 believers, including President Klaus Iohannis, a government rival.

The Romanian Orthodox Church supports the referendum and has asked other churches to publicly back it.

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