On December 1, 2013 Croatia will participate in a referendum to vote whether same-sex marriage will be banned in their country. The Roman Catholic Church encouraged conservative groups in a plea to the government to define matrimony to be limited to the union between husband and wife.
Conservative groups have asked the referendum’s question to the people of Croatia: “Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?” and have received over 700,000 signatures to support their cause. If passed, the result would be devastating for the tragic 30 percent of voters who are predicted to oppose the question. The “In the Name of the Family” conservative group has been the leader in driving this movement to the head of public attention.
In the first four hours of voting, nearly one tenth of the country showed up to declare their stance on same-sex marriage in the highly Catholic nation, which only just recently joined the European Union in July. From most recent statistics, Croatia was gauged at having 90 percent of their population as being part of the Roman Catholic Church. What would appear to be the best hopes for those opposing the referendum’s ability to infringe upon the rights of same-sex marriages is the requirement of a majority turn out for the voting to pass. The last time citizens initiated their own vote was prior to the collapse of the Yugoslavian government in 1991.
In an unusual display of a leader against the popular opinion, the liberal president, Ivo Josipovic has already declared that he will be voting against the referendum. He has firmly supported same-sex marriage in the past as part of his candidacy. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic declared that “this is the last referendum that gives a chance to the majority to strip a minority of its rights.” The two gentlemen are among many key public figures who appear to disagree with the population’s majority.
The two political heads were backed by hundreds of pro-gay rights protesters who urged people on Saturday not to ban same-sex marriage in Croatia. Infringing upon the rights of a minority, the group has said, is not what they would consider an appropriate use of democracy. The streets have been loud with protesters chanting, “Homosexuality is not a choice, but hatred is.”
The country’s conservative groups began to start their mission when the liberal majority run government passed a bill that would allow same-sex pasterns to legally register themselves as “life partners.” However, up to this point, couples seeking same-sex marriage had received little to know recognition or rights from the government. In 2003 the first law was passed acknowledging same sex couples that lived together for 3 years or more as having the right for inheritance and financial support but remained ineligible for adoption.
In the last decade over 13 countries have made same-sex marriage legal for their citizens, over-coming many obstacles. Among them includes Canada, France and partially the United States and Mexico. The allies of this movement world wide are hoping and praying that for the 13 steps forward they’ve been able to take, Croatia will not represent another step-back by banning same-sex marriage.
By Romana Outerbridge