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Critics say amending the Romanian constitution to ban same-sex marriage could violate human rights and amounts to antigay discrimination. (file photo)

Romania's top court has ruled that gay couples should have the same family rights as heterosexuals, a judgment that comes ahead of a national referendum seeking to ban same-sex marriage.

The Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples had the same rights to a private and family life as heterosexuals and should "benefit from.... legal and juridical recognition of their rights and obligations."

The ruling on September 27 comes ahead of an October 6-7 referendum that is seeking to limit the constitutional definition of family to heterosexual, married couples.

The Romanian constitution currently says marriage is between spouses. The referendum seeks to change that to explicitly state that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Critics say amending the constitution could violate human rights and amounts to antigay discrimination.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP
An impromptu memorial to Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova who were killed at their home near Bratislava in February.

Slovakia's state prosecutor has charged three people with the premeditated murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in February, a spokeswoman said on September 28.

The three people were detained in a house raid on September 27.

Five others detained in the same raid have been released, the spokeswoman said.

Jan Kuciak was found shot dead along with Martina Kusnirova at their home near the capital, Bratislava, in February. They were both 27.

The authorities have said they believed it was a contract killing linked to Kuciak's work.

The journalist was investigating political corruption at the time of the slayings, which triggered the biggest street protests in Slovakia since the fall of communism in 1989 and a political crisis that led to the fall of former Prime Minister Robert Fico's government in March.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Idnes, AP and dpa

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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