News :: International

Croatia Allows Public to Vote on Gay Marriage Ban

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Oct 25, 2013
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Gay rights activists carry the rainbow flag during a Gay Pride march in Split, Croatia in 2012.
Gay rights activists carry the rainbow flag during a Gay Pride march in Split, Croatia in 2012.  (Source:AP Photo/Nikola Solic)

The Croatian parliament will allow a public referendum on a constitutional amendment that would prevent same-sex couples from legally marrying. The public will get to vote on the issue on Dec. 1, BuzzFeed reports.

Lawmakers voted 10-3 to hold a referendum on the gay marriage ban. According to BuzzFeed, the Balkan country joined the European Union on July 1 but Croatia’s record on LGBT rights came under fire while being considered for EU induction. EU officials said the country had to pass laws that ban anti-LGBT discrimination in order to be part of the union.

The vote was revealed when Croatia was in the middle of hosting the International Gay And Lesbian Association’s’ European Branch meeting in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. BuzzFeed reports nearly 300 LGBT activists from 40 countries attended the event, including leading human rights officials from the U.S. and EU. The officials, however, did not comment on the referendum.

Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Uzra Zeya, who leads the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, told Croatian reports LGBT rights are "a key foreign policy priority for the Obama administration and Secretary Kerry, and we’re very proud to be supporting human rights for LGBT persons," according to BuzzFeed.

"As a matter of policy, the U.S. government does not advocate for or against same-sex marriage in other countries," Zeya added. He went on to say, however, the U.S. is focused on reducing hate crimes and "other core issues."

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