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Croatia provides partnership rights to gay couples

Croatia provides partnership rights to gay couples

Croatia will extend the same rights to gay couples living together as to unmarried heterosexual couples, including state recognition of shared assets and joint health coverage, a parliamentary source told Agence France Presse on Tuesday. The law, passed by parliament late Monday, only applies to gay and lesbian couples living together for at least three years. "It is an important step forward in terms of human rights for Croatian society," Sanja Juras, an official with the lesbian rights group Kontra (Opposite), told AFP. Activists from Kontra and the gay rights group Iskorak (Step Forward) had taken the government to task back in January for taking no steps to protect gays from discrimination in this conservative, predominantly Catholic country. In recognizing gay partnerships, Croatia put itself on similar footing with countries of the European Union, which it aspires to join, perhaps by as early as 2007. Same-sex marriages and partnerships are legal in a number of EU states, and in 2000 the Netherlands gave gay marriages complete parity of rights with heterosexual ones. Britain is planning to put forth legislation this year to give full legal equality to "civil partnerships" for gays and lesbians. Kontra and Iskorak estimate that between 6 and 12 percent of Croatia's 4.5 million people are gay or lesbian.

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