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Supporters of LGBT rights in Croatia have staged protests in the streets of Zagreb over a referendum that may outlaw same-sex marriage in the country. The protesters included LGBT people and their allies from all walks of life.
The EU’s newest member state saw over 1,000 people march ahead of this Sunday’s vote, which seeks to rewrite the constitution to define marriage as solely as a ‘union between a woman and a man’.
Damir Kovacic, a 34-year-old electrical engineer who marched with his wife, said, ‘With this sentence in the constitution we would make the lives of our fellow citizens, who are a sexual minority, more difficult. And tomorrow a referendum about someone else’s rights might be on the agenda.’
Croatia is a Catholic country, and over 750,000 people signed a petition by a group called In the Name of the Family in favour of a referendum. The latest survey showed 68 per cent of the country would vote in support of the proposed amendment, with only 27 per cent voting against.
Despite widespread support for the amendment, however, it has faced strong opposition by the country’s centre-left government and by human rights experts and activists.
In the Name of the Family claims that the constitution should be reworded to protect families and children.
‘Nothing will change anyway, everything is already defined by family law. I personally think that traditional marriage is not in jeopardy from homosexuals,’ said Iva Spoljar Saric.
Croatia’s first LGBT pride parade was held in Zagreb in 2002. Dozens of participants were attacked by extremists, but pride has continued to be an annual event since. Attitudes towards LGBT people in the nation have softened since 2002 and same-sex couples who have been co-habiting for three years have been recognised in law since 2003, although they receive few rights.