Croatia Passes Civil Unions — Without Adoption Rights

The newest member country of the European Union has taken a step to reverse some of the damage done by a constitutional ban on marriage equality.

BY Thom Senzee

July 18 2014 2:03 PM ET

LGBT Pride participants hold a banner in the Croatian city of Split on June 7, 2014, as some 200 people marched without incident in the conservative Croatian town. 

Same-sex couples in Croatia will soon have access to legal recognition of their relationships, but families headed by same-sex parents may still be out of luck in seeking full equality.

By voting in favor of same-sex civil unions on Tuesday, 95 members of the Croatian parliament made good Prime Minister Zoran Milonavic's promise to undo some of the harm caused by the Catholic Church last year when it succeeded in prohibiting same-sex marriage in Croatia, reports Agence France-Presse.

Croatia's new "registered partnership" designation brings all of the rights that straight married couples already receive to same-sex couples — except for the right to adopt children. Ten members of Croatia's parliament abstained from voting for the bill, though none voted against it, AFP notes.

A local journalist working in Croatian LGBT media hailed the vote as progress for the small, conservative European Union member-country.

"Croatia made a historic step forward to stand along progressive countries which have already resolved the issue," Iva Tomecic, editor-in-chief of LGBT news outlet, CroL told AFP. "From now on same-sex couples and families can finally legally regulate their unions... knowing that the country where they live, work and pay taxes is treating them as equal citizens."

Croatia is 90 percent Catholic, according to a blog from New Ways Ministry, an organization that seeks to bridge the divide between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community. In 2013, the church led a massive signature-gathering campaign to ban same-sex marriage by way of an amendment to Croatia's constitution. In the end, religious activists collected signatures from more than one-fifth of of the country's population, according to New Ways Ministry.   

"With civil unions approved for same-gender couples and few options to oppose them left, let us hope Croatia’s bishops will end their crusade against LGBT rights once and for all," writes blogger Bob Shine of New Ways Ministry.

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