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article imageCroatians vote against LGBT marriage equality

By Brett Wilkins     Dec 1, 2013 in World
Zagreb - Same-sex marriage will be banned under Croatia's constitution as nearly two-thirds of voters in Sunday's national election approved a referendum defining marriage as "a union between a woman and a man."
Agence France-Presse reports 65.76 percent of voters in Sunday's election voted to amend Croatia's constitution to include the new discriminatory definition of marriage.
The measure was pushed by In the Name of the Family, a Church-backed group in the heavily Catholic Balkan nation. The group had collected nearly 750,000 signatures in favor of the nationwide referendum after the country's left-of-center government drafted legislation that would have allowed same-sex couples to register as 'life partners.'
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic said he would vote against the discriminatory measure.
"We don't need this kind of a referendum," Josipovic said ahead of Sunday's vote. "Defining marriage between a man and a woman doesn't belong to the constitution. A nation is judged by its attitude toward minorities."
Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic called the referendum "a chance [for] the majority to strip a minority of its rights."
But conservatives, backed by the Catholic Church, successfully pushed for the referendum's passage.
"Marriage is the only union enabling procreation," Croatian Cardinal Josip Bozanic asserted.
The Church's message resonated with Croatians, 90 percent of whom are Roman Catholic.
"I'm a father of three children, and that explains everything," 'yes' voter Krunoslav Knezevic told AFP. "Marriage is a union of a woman and a man designed so that children are born in it. I'm not certain that a same-sex couple can have children in a natural way."
But not all Croatians wanted to deny their LGBT citizens equal rights.
"Today, homosexuals are on the agenda, tomorrow it will be those who have bicycles, then people with dogs, Jews, we know how it goes," Ilija Desnica, an elderly man who voted 'no' on the referendum, told AFP. "This is the entry of fascism through the back door."
Croatia collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II, with hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and others imprisoned or killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp-- the only Holocaust extermination center not run by Germans.
Although Croatia joined the European Union earlier this year, gay Croatians face more discrimination and societal rejection than LGBT individuals in Northern and Western Europe. In 2003, the Croatian government recognized 'unregistered cohabitation' status for same-sex couples, granting such couples who have been together for at least three years similar inheritance and financial support rights as enjoyed by unmarried cohabiting heterosexual couples. However, efforts to confer more rights upon LGBT Croatians have all failed.
Among European nations, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, England and Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal have legalized same-sex marriage.
Same-sex couple Mima Simic and Marta Sisak kiss in Zagreb s downtown. Croats voted overwhelmingly in...
Same-sex couple Mima Simic and Marta Sisak kiss in Zagreb's downtown. Croats voted overwhelmingly in favor of defining marriage in the constitution as a "union of man and woman" on December 1, 2013
With permission by Reuters / Antonio Bronic
A photo of same-sex couple Mima Simic and Marta Sisak is seen in their home in Zagreb.  Croats voted...
A photo of same-sex couple Mima Simic and Marta Sisak is seen in their home in Zagreb. Croats voted overwhelmingly in favor of defining marriage in the constitution as a "union of man and woman" on December 1, 2013
With permission by Reuters / Antonio Bronic
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