In what is being hailed as a “major victory” for the Catholic Church, Croatians voted to place a ban on same-sex marriage into the national constitution in a referendum held today.
The state electoral commission, citing initial 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 against. The result meant that Croatia’s constitution will be amended to ban same-sex marriage. The vote has deeply divided Croatia. Liberal groups have said the referendum’s question infringes on basic human rights. The Church-backed groups have gathered 750,000 signatures in its support. The country of 4.4 million, which became EU’s 28th member in July, has taken steps to improve gay rights, but issues such as same-sex marriage remain highly sensitive in the staunchly Catholic nation.
Croatia is the newest member of the European Union and the nation’s president and prime minister both opposed the referendum. Gay rights activists protested in Zagreb under heavy security in advance of the vote.