Croatia is drawing up plans to give gay couples civil unions.
The largely Catholic eastern European country’s government has said they wish to give gay people the same rights as marriage, but not the word.
Arsen Bauk, the public administration minister, said the unions will not be called ‘marriage’ but a ‘life partnerships’.
Despite saying same-sex couples will not be allowed to adopt children, they are considering to allow second-parent adoption.
This means one member of the couple will be allowed to adopt the biological child of the other, if the natural parent is unknown or no longer alive.
As many lesbian couples live in Croatia with children, Bauk said it was ‘important the State recognize this reality and gives guarantees even to the other mother.’
Marko JurÄiÄ‡, anti-discrimination coordinator for Zagreb Pride, told Gay Star News it was a ‘big step forward’.
‘Of course marriage equality is something we all demand, but it is still a huge step.
‘Almost every country that now has marriage equality has had this step in between.
‘While in one hand anyone who wants to get married can in the meantime still enjoy a huge number of rights, rights they deserve. On the other, this is a block in the path to marriage equality.’
Last month, the Catholic Church gathered 750,000 signatures – over one fifth of the population – to demand the Constitution ban same-sex marriage.
A referendum on same-sex marriage could possibly follow the Constitutional Court’s ruling, but it is unknown if or when it will happen.
The government and gay activists are deeply opposed to putting same-sex marriage to a public vote.
But in the mean time, the civil unions law will be officially introduced to the Croatian public in September and will begin parliament proceedings soon after. If it runs smoothly, it will hopefully be adopted as early at the end of this year.