Croatians are strong Catholics, which might account for the majority vote against same-sex marriage in Zagreb, Croatia. This was a victory for Catholic Church-backed conservatives in the European Union's newest nation.
The state electoral commission, citing near complete results, said 65 percent of those who voted answered "yes" to the referendum question: "Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?" About 34 percent voted no.
This vote will influence their constitution, which will include the vote to ban gay marriage in this country. Although the majority voted against gay marriage, the percentage that voted for it has divided Croatia. The referendum is an infringement on basic human rights, as referenced by gay marriage supporters.
Obviously, right-wing conservatives are strong in Croatia, which is suffering a deep economic crisis with unemployed widespread.
This country of 4.4 million has taken steps to improve gay rights, but issues such as same-sex marriage remain highly sensitive. The group responsible for the referendum was put into place by "In the Name of the Family" where Croatian government would allow gay couples register as "life partners."
But, since 90 percent of Croatians are Roman Catholic, they followed the church's strong suggestion. Such as, "Marriage is the only union enabling procreation," Croatian Cardinal Josip Bozanic said in his message to the followers. "This is the key difference between a marriage and other unions."
Even the liberal president of Croatia, Ivo Josipovic, said he voted against amending the constitution. "The referendum result must not be the reason for new divisions," Josipovic said. "We have serious economic and social problems. It's not worth it to focus on such issues."
Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said "this is the last referendum that gives a chance to the majority to strip a minority of its rights."
Hundreds of gay rights supporters marched in Zagreb on Saturday asking for a "no" vote.
"I will vote against because I think that the referendum is not a festival of democracy, but a festival of oppression against a minority, which fights for its rights and which does not have its rights," Jura Matulic, a university student, said.
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