|Formerly part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia is one of Europe's most beautiful countries|
|© Jure Makovic, AFP | A Slovenian citizen casts a ballot on Dec. 20, 2015, |
in a referendum on whether to allow the largely-Catholic state to become
Europe's first ex-communist country to allow same-sex marriage.
Slovenians rejected a same-sex marriage law by a large margin in a referendum on Sunday, according to preliminary referendum results.
The results released Sunday by authorities show 63 percent voted against a bill that defines marriage as a union of two adults, while 37 percent were in favor.
The results were incomplete, but were unlikely to change significantly in the final tally.
Parliament introduced marriage equality in March, but conservative groups, backed by the Catholic Church, pushed through a popular vote on the issue.
Although Slovenia is considered to be among the most liberal of the ex-communist nations, gay rights remain a contentious topic in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation of 2 million.
Voters in the former Yugoslav republic rejected granting more rights to gay couples in a referendum in 2012.
The Slovenia vote illustrates a cultural split within the European Union in which more established western members are rapidly granting new rights to gays, while eastern newcomers entrench conservative attitudes toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.