December 9, 2013
Croatia entered the European Union (EU) in July this year, making it the 28th and newest member of the union. Among its 4.4 million citizens, 87.8% identify as Roman Catholics and 4.4% as Orthodox Christian. After the center-left government crafted a same-sex “life partners” law back in May, the Catholic Church and other denominations rallied behind a referendum to amend Croatia’s constitution to legally define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The marriage question was the third referendum in Croatia since the country became independent in 1991. The referendum asked, “Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?” As reported by the state electoral commission to numerous media, 65% of Croatians voted “yes” and 34% voted “no.”
Leading up to that vote on Dec. 1, Catholic Cardinal Josip Bozanic, in a letter read to churches throughout Croatia, said, “Marriage is the only union enabling procreation. … This is the key difference between a marriage and other unions.”
Zelka Markic, the leader of “In the Name of the Family,” which pushed hard in favor of the referendum, told Agence France Press, “We believe that marriage, children, and family are so important issues that the whole society has to decide on them.”
Croatia’s president, Ivo Josipovic, opposed the referendum and said, “It would not be good that Croatia appears to be a country of intolerance.”
Besides Croatia, 12 other nations, all from Eastern Europe, have joined the EU since 2004. Not one of those nations legally recognizes homosexual "marriage" and only three permit some legal standing for same-sex couples.
The nations that joined the EU since 2004 are as follows:
Czech Republic (2004)
According to Marriage Equality USA, a member of the International Lesbian & Gay Association, the current same-sex marriage status in those newer EU nations is as follows:
Bulgaria: The nation’s constitution defines marriages as the legal union of one man and one woman; no form of same-sex unions is recognized.
Cyprus: Marriage legally recognized for one man and one woman. (Source: U.S. State Department 2012 Human Rights Report for Cyprus.)
Czech Republic: Same-sex partnerships are recognized, with inheritance and health care rights similar to heterosexual married couples but adoption of children is prohibited.
Estonia: Same-sex marriage is against the law.
Hungary: Same-sex partnerships allowed with similar benefits to heterosexual married couples, but adoption of children by gays is prohibited.
Latvia: Marriage is constitutionally defined as being between one man and one woman.
Lithuania: Same-sex marriage is against the law.
Malta: No legal recognition for homosexual couples.
Poland: Marriage is constitutionally defined as “a union of a man and a woman.”
Romania: No legal recognition for gay couples.
Slovakia: No legal recognition for same-sex couples.
Slovenia: Homosexual domestic partnerships arerecognized through a government-sanctioned Family Code but they do not provide the same legal standing and benefits as married heterosexual couples, and the arrangement has been criticized by gay activists.