Several hundred gay rights activists and supporters marched in the capital, Zagreb, on Saturday urging Croatians to vote against the amendment, while liberal groups argued that the proposed ban would infringe on basic human rights. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic previously blasted the referendum as giving “a chance to the majority to strip a minority of its rights.”
However, Croatia, the European Union’s newest nation (they joined back in July), has a population that is 90% Roman Catholic. The conservative group, In the Name of the Family, called for the referendum after Croatia’s center-left government drafted a law allowing gay couples to register as “life partners.” Church-backed groups gathered 750,000 signatures supporting the referendum.
Croatia’s liberal president, Ivo Josipovic, voted against the referendum, but he says its results must be respected and that there are other, more pressing concerns at hand.
“The referendum result must not be the reason for new divisions,” Josipovic told the AP. “We have serious economic and social problems. It’s not worth it to focus on such issues.”
Josipovic is referring to the country’s worsening economic crisis and joblessness, which has made way for conservatives to gain ground. Still, Josipovic hinted at a law the government is preparing that will provide some rights to gay and lesbian couples living together.
The EU has yet to comment on Croatia’s ban on gay marriage. Currently, eight of the European Union’s 28 nations recognize same-sex marriage, including Belgium, The Netherlands, France, the UK, Spain and Denmark. Croatia is the sixth to pass a constitutional ban.
Photo: Split Pride