Post submitted by Rebecca Parks, former Associate Director, HRC Global

Croatians will head to the polls on December 1 to vote on whether to define marriage in the country’s constitution as “a union of man and woman.”  The referendum was sponsored by the Catholic group U Ime Obitelji (In the Name of the Family), which delivered 740,000 signatures to place the matter on the ballot.

Croatia’s political leadership has come out against the referendum with the President, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs all saying they would vote “no.”  Although support for the amendment is strong from the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Croatian Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Jewish Community of Zagreb, among others, have publicly voiced opposition.  Recent polling has shown a slight majority Croatians expressing support for the referendum. 

In The Name Of The Family has been campaigning hard on television, radio and social media.  It is believed the group has spent upwards of $8.5 million on the campaign and they recently came under fire from the British indie pop band The XX, for using the band’s song in one of their commercials without permission.  In The Name of the Family also cited the thoroughly debunked Regnerus study in their campaign to get the initiative to the ballot. 

Croatia joined the European Union on July 1, 2013.  As part of the process of joining the EU, the country passed legislation banning discrimination against LGBT people and was urged to develop a national action plan to protect LGBT rights. Same sex couples have had the same rights as unmarried cohabiting heterosexual couples in terms of inheritance and financial support since 2003.  Regardless of the outcome of the current referendum, the Croatian parliament is currently debating a “Life Partnership” bill that would provide same-sex couples with most of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

If the referendum passes on Sunday, the Constitution will not immediately be amended.  Following the popular vote, parliament will hold its own vote on whether or not to adopt the marriage amendment.

Filed under: International, Marriage

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