Croats Decide to Ban Same Sex Marriage
Reposted from Balkan Insight: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/croats-decide-to-ban-same-sex-marriage
Majority of Croatians voted to change the constitution to define marriage as an exclusive union of a woman and a man, efectively outlawing gay marriage.
Initial results of the controversial referendum on Sunday, based on 92 per cent of the counted ballots showed that the 65 per cent of voters had voted "yes", while 33 per cent of the voters voted "against".
Voter turnout was around 35 per cent. The size of the turnout is irrelevant, because under Croatian law there is no minimum threshold for a referendum result to be valid and binding.
“Do you support the introduction of a clause to the Croatian Constitution that defines marriage as life-long union between a woman and a man?” is the question wording.
Lawmakers will have no option but to change the constitution.
The referendum has been organised by grassroots campaigners backed by right-wing opposition parties and the socially conservative Catholic Church.
Centre-left officials, including Prime Minister Milanovic and President Josipovic, have condemned the referendum as discriminatory and as damaging to the country’ human rights image.
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic cast his vote saying "this is a sad and senseless referendum and i hope this is the last time that in this way or with these kind of questions we are coming out on a referendum."
President Ivo Josipovic echoed the same sentiment saying "we did not need this referendum."
The referendum was the third in recent history after the vote on independence from Yugoslavia in May 1991 and a second vote on joining the EU in January 2012.
“Citizens vote against”, one of the groups lobbying against a ban on gay marriage, says the change would permanently violate the human rights of an entire minority.
“In the name of the family”, the name of the umbrella campaign in favour of the change, responds by saying that marriage can only be the union of a woman and a man.
The same conservative group decided on Saturday to deny access to some of the main media outlets in the country, including the public broadcaster HRT, due to their "biased" reporting.
Apart from HRT, accreditations for referendum coverage from the headquarters of the initiative were denied to all media outlets in the EPH media group, Novi List, Index.hr and others.
The Croatian media Council condemned the move saying it is "preposterous that in 2013 in a EU member country, journalists and media are banned because of their reporting."
They called the conservative initiative, which is supported by the Catholic Church and some opposition parties, to allow access to all media or face a boycott by journalists.
Editors at Nova TV, a private broadcaster, which was not denied accreditation, have already said that in show of solidarity with their colleagues they will not be reporting from the "In the name of the Family" media centre.
Other media joined the boycott which forced the group to call on all media on Sunday afternoon to resume reporting " in the public interest"