Marriage Equality has been a hot topic in the United States, as more and more states pass legislation allowing marriage between same-sex couples. Illinois is the most recent state to join the crusade, legalizing marriage for all couples looking to have the state recognize their love for one another. It is important to remember, however, that even as progressive legislation makes itself known in America, there are many other places where couples are still struggling for the right to have their love recognized as legitimate in the eyes of their government. Croatia is just one such example of this world-wide struggle.
In a vote that took place today, 26.75 percent of the Croation voting populous voted in favor of the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. The question for the poll was phrased as, "Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?" 65 percent of the voters were in favor of this definition, while about 34 percent voted against it. The poll's overwhelming majority vote means that marriage between same-sex couples will be banned, due to an amendment set to be added to the nation's constitution. Talk of a government bill that would allow same-sex couples to register as "life partners" sparked fear in conservative groups that seems to have lead to this vote.
The poll and impending amendment have divided the Croatian people, with hundreds of gay rights and marriage equality supporters gathering in the nation's capital, Zagreb, to protest against the poll and legislation. Liberal groups have also said that the referendum's question "infringes on basic human rights." The "yes" vote has been strongly endorsed by the Catholic church, however, and with 90 percent of the Croatian population identifying as Roman Catholic, it comes as no surprise that the vote leaned in favor of "traditional" marriage. A church-backed group known as "In The Name Of The Family" collected over 700,000 signatures in favor of the "yes" vote.
This story does not end on a hopeless note, however. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that the vote was "sad and senseless," and voiced the hope that this would be the last vote on such matters. The general mind set towards LGBTQ individuals in Croatia is also growing to be more positive and progressive; gay rights marches are held regularly (under heavy security) and individuals are facing less and less fear about "coming out" to their families and friends. Hopefully, this progressive attitude can continue, even in the face of this referendum, and create a positive environment for LGBTQ Croatians.[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]