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Croatia celebrates first gay marriage march

Croatia celebrates first gay marriage march

About 400 people took part in the first ever Marriage Equality march in staunchly Catholic Croatia to express their support for same-sex marriages yesterday (27 May).

The march was organized by gay rights groups and passed without incident.

Equal marriage supporters marched through downtown Zagreb chanting ‘Love is Love’, ‘Marriage for All’, and carrying banners that read ‘Different Families – Same Rights’.

The march also highlighted human rights violations of LGBT people and those living in same-sex unions.

Arriving at the main government offices, they put out a giant rainbow flag and asked for their rights.

As reported by the AFP, Sanja Juras, the coordinator from the lesbian group Kontra and a gay rights activist, said: ‘We seek protection of our basic human rights. Our families are not inferior. We expect from the government some concrete actions: the right to marriage and common-law marriage’.

‘I support my homosexual friends who have the right to make choices and make them legal’, said Maja, who attended the march with her two-year-old daughter.

Croatia extended the same rights to gay couples living together as to unmarried straight couples in 2003. The law only applies to gay and lesbian couples living together for at least three years.

The center-left government has announced it will boost gay couples’ rights but has not provided further details.

In recent weeks, a Catholic Church-backed group ‘In the Name of the Family’ has launched a petition calling for a national referendum on whether to include a definition of marriage – defining marriage as a ‘union of a man and a woman’ – in the constitution.

Croatia’s current constitution has no provision defining marriage and the move is seen as an attempt to block any future legalisation of gay marriages.

The group have tried to mobilise citizens against same-sex marriages and claimed to have collected 500,000 signatures – enough to hold a referendum.

However Juras said it was completely unacceptable for a human rights issue to be put to a referendum.

Croatia is staunchly Catholic and very conservative. Its treatment of LGBT people and the rights it accords to LGBT people will be subject to more scrutiny when it formally joins the European Union on 1 July 2013.