The referendum was held following a citizens’ initiative led by anti-equality organisation ‘In the Name of the Family’. During the past weeks, the Catholic Church strongly urged people to vote in favour, whilst human rights activists argued against the referendum.
Although the government agreed to hold the vote, officials including President Ivo Josipović, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and Minister of Foreign Affairs Vesna Pusić expressed their concern and said they would vote against a restrictive definition of marriage.
Turnout was low, at 37%. This means 24% of eligible voters chose to restrict the definition of marriage.
Members of the European Parliament earlier expressed their concern about the use of referendums for human rights-related matters, which subverts democracy by allowing the majority to decide on the rights of minorities.
Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, reacted: “Given the organisation of this referendum by the Catholic Church, I am saddened—but not surprised—by the outcome.”
“But this result will not stop progressive, democratic and inclusive movements in Croatia. Equality is a defining element of a civilised and inclusive society.”
Croatian Member of the European Parliament Oleg Valjalo MEP added: “I am very disappointed by this result. I believe human rights, including the rights of minorities, should never be put to a vote.”
“However, I am glad that the government indicated it will continue on the road to equality by giving greater rights to same-sex couples through registered partnerships.”