Croatia and Same Sex Marriage: Does It Stand a Chance?

Croatian voters recently passed a referendum on Sunday proposing to ban same-sex marriages by defining marriage in Croatia’s constitution as a union between a man and a woman. The referendum came as a result of a petition circulated by a Catholic group, which garnered over 700,000 signatures. Croatia’s population of 4.4 million people is about ninety percent (90%) Catholic, and the church strongly supported the measure. The referendum, supported by two-thirds of the nation’s parliament and almost two-thirds of the voters, has divided Croatia. The Croatian President Ivo Josipovic expressed disappointment with the result, and the Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and several human rights groups had urged the public to vote against the changes to the constitution, stating that it infringed upon human rights. Police heavily monitored a large demonstration on Saturday staged by protesters who had opposed the ban.

Croatia joined the European Union (EU) in July 2013. The EU allows each member state to make its own rules concerning same sex unions. In early November the Croatian parliament voted to hold the referendum with a vote of 104 to 13 in favor. In September, representatives from Croatia attended the first UN ministerial meeting on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Representatives from the US, France, Argentina, Brazil, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan, New Zealand and the EU, along with executive directors of Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission were also present. LGBT individuals have gained increased rights globally in the last decade, but many still face discrimination and criminal punishment throughout the world.

It seems as if the Catholic church is still an extremely powerful influence in Croatia. Indeed, if ninety (90%) percent of the population is in fact Catholic, the real question becomes how devote the citizens are to the Catholic religion. Based on the initial results in Croatia Parliament and its voters, it seems as if same sex marriage will be a fantasy for quite some time in that nation.

Can you think of any solutions to the opposition to same sex marriage in Croatia, or is the Catholic influence just to strong to combat?

Same Sex Marriage is still an extremely pervasive issue both in the U.S. and abroad. Should there me an international law that would decide the issue, or does each nation have the right to criminalize same sex marriages?

Picture: Google Images

Source: ICJ, Croatia

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