John M. Becker

Croatian Voters Approve Marriage Discrimination

Filed By John M. Becker | December 02, 2013 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Catholic Church, Croatia, gay marriage, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, Regnerus study, same-sex marriage

croatia_flag.gifSad news out of the former Yugoslav republic of Croatia today, where more than 65 percent of voters approved a referendum enshrining marriage discrimination into the country's constitution.

The vote is being hailed as a decisive victory for the Catholic Church, which lobbied strongly for the measure. Croatia is a staunchly Catholic country and the newest member of the European Union.

AFP reports:

A total of 65.76 percent of voters said they wanted to amend the constitution to include a definition of marriage as a "union between a woman and a man", according to results from almost 99 percent of polling stations released by the electoral commission. Croatia's current constitution does not define marriage.

Passions ran high in Croatia ahead of the vote, with the Church-backed "yes" camp citing the defence of traditional family values and their opponents accusing them of discrimination against gays. However, three hours before voting ended, the turnout was a rather low 26.75 percent, the electoral commission said.

Under Croatian law, a referendum does not require a majority voter turnout to be valid.

The centre-left government, rights activists and prominent public figures had all spoken out against the measure. But the recent unveiling of a government bill enabling gay couples to register as "life partners" sparked fears among conservatives in Croatia -- which joined the European Union in July -- that same-sex marriage would be next.

In May, a Church-backed group called "In the Name of the Family" collected almost 700,000 signatures seeking a nationwide vote on the definition of marriage."We showed that we know, like David fighting against Goliath, how to direct our small slingstones in the same direction," the initiative's leader, Zeljka Markic, told her cheering supporters in their electoral headquarters late Sunday.

As they gathered signatures and made their case for the referendum, proponents cited U.S. researcher Mark Regnerus's discredited New Family Structures Study as supposed evidence that same-sex marriage harms children. That claim, of course, is baseless and has been widely debunked.

On the eve of the vote, more than 1,000 people marched through the downtown streets of the capital, Zagreb, to protest the discriminatory measure. Activist Sanja Juras told AFP that it will allow "members of a minority group to be permanently labeled second-class citizens."

Watch a Euronews report on the protests:

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