LGBT Pride in Zagreb, capital of Croatia
A majority of Croatians have voted to ban same-sex marriage in Sunday’s national constitutional referendum on the issue.
According to preliminary results from election officials, 65% of voters were in favour of limiting marriage to only being “between a man and a woman”.
This means that the country’s constitution will now be amended to outlaw same-sex marriage.
The results are a major victory for the Catholic Church which has been unable to stem growing acceptance and legalisation of gay marriage across Europe.
Croatia, which joined the EU in July, is an overwhelmingly catholic nation and its citizens were urged by the church to vote against marriage equality.
LGBT and human rights groups have slammed the referendum, initiated by the conservative group In the Name of the Family, arguing that stripping rights from people should never be put up for a vote.
Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic and other government officials spoke out against the constitutional amendment.
“We don’t need this kind of a referendum. Defining marriage between a man and a woman doesn’t belong to the constitution. A nation is judged by its attitude toward minorities,” Josipovic said.
Sadly, the majority of Croatians disagreed.
The EU, which pressured the country to improve its LGBT rights as a condition to joining the union, is yet to comment on the referendum.
In October last year, the European Commission’s 2012 Progress Report on Croatia stated that “Lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people still face discrimination and even threats and attacks”.
However, according to a 2013 report by ILGA-Europe, Croatian officials have “continued to gradually improve the human rights situation for LGBTI people”.