ZAGREB, December 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A majority of Croatian voters said no in yesterday’s referendum to the implementation of “gay marriage” in their country. 65.8 percent said “yes” to the referendum question: “Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?” The result, which also received support from 104 out of 151 parliamentarians, means that the country’s constitution must now be amended to exclude the possibility of gay “marriage.”
The referendum has thrown up a major roadblock against the advance of the homosexualist lobby’s agenda in this country, which is nearly 90 percent Catholic.
In 2003, parliamentarians included “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” in the list of grounds for illegal discrimination and recognised “unregistered cohabitation.” In 2009, the same Anti-discrimination Act was amended to include the “right” of a citizen to change his legal gender. Currently, legal changes are being considered that would create recognised “life partnerships,” open to “all genders,” with a bill expected to be introduced by the middle of December.
The grassroots group “In the Name of the Family,” which brought forward the referendum question with a petition of over 750,000 signatures, had an uphill climb against the recently elected leftist government, who attempted to block it.
In the Name of the Family told Deutsche Welle, “We want to show clearly that the majority of people in Croatia is convinced that marriage is only a union between a man and a woman.” The referendum marks the first time a plebiscite has been held in the country since it gained independence in 1991.
The group's leader, Zelja Markic, said that “all the rights pertaining to marriage can only be part of a union between a woman and a man.” The initiative received support from the Croatian Democratic Union and the Catholic Church as well as from Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish groups.
“We showed that we know, like David fighting against Goliath, how to direct our small slingstones in the same direction,” Markic told supporters Sunday night.
Although the group had collected signatures from about 20 percent of the country’s electorate in a nation of about 4.3 million, the government tried to change the rules, claiming the electorate is larger than the official numbers. The Referendum Act requires that petitioners secure the signatures of 10 percent of the electorate, about 450,000 signatures.
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Later Deputy Prime Minister Stazić and Vesna Pusić, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, claimed that a referendum does not have binding, only consultative powers, despite the wording of the Constitution, which says a referendum is binding.
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic told media he planned to vote No, saying, “We don’t need this kind of a referendum.” “Defining marriage between a man and a woman doesn’t belong to the constitution. A nation is judged by its attitude toward minorities,” he said.
But the rights-watch group, European Dignity Watch, (EDW) said the referendum is “a clear and simple sign of the democratic process” at work.
“All the more impressive given the intense pressure that the media and government officials, including the Prime Minister and Education Minister, put on organizers of the referendum and their allies over the past few weeks,” said EDW’s director Sophia Kuby.
Croatia is one of the few countries in the western world to have put the question to the public. In most places where gay “marriage” or same-sex civil unions have been created activists have bypassed the democratic process and turned to the courts. Canada’s parliament created same-sex “marriage” after Ontario courts ruled that restricting marriage to a man and a woman was “discriminatory.” The federal government at the time claimed that it had no leeway to refuse. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron refused to put the question to the public in a referendum, despite broad opposition in his own party.
Croatia, as the most recent country to join the European Union, will now likely face a heavy backlash from the EU and international lobby groups. In the lead-up to the referendum, one of the most influential homosexualist NGOs, the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA Europe), held their annual conference in Zagreb, despite Croatians being largely opposed.
Today, ILGA Europe lamented the use of “democratic tools” to stop “gay marriage”.
“We are seriously concerned by the fact that opponents to equality for all are using democratic tools to impose majority views on the rights of minority groups,” the group said in a statement. “We believe human rights and issues concerning minority groups cannot and should not be subjected to the popular vote in the first place.”
Earlier ILGA deplored the growth of opposition to their work in Europe, saying the situation is “increasingly more complex.”
At their conference in Zagreb, they said, “This conference is a great chance for our movement to address those new realities and to develop new or adapt existing strategies to secure continued progress and advance.”
This year, the group held their “3rd Intersex Forum” in Malta, another majority Catholic country, and holdout against the homosexualist agenda.