Croatia Approves Civil Unions for Same-Sex Couples
The Eastern European country of Croatia overwhelmingly approved civil unions Tuesday, allowing same-sex couples to enter into life partnerships, according to the Italian news agency ANSA Mediterranean.
The Registered Partnership bill passed by an 89 to 16 vote. The measure will recognize gay and lesbian couples as "form of family life" and they will have the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex married couples.
Mark Jurcic, the head of a Croatian-based LGBT group told the ANSA: "This long-awaited legal recognition of our unions means that all family forms are equal, that they deserve to live in a safe, happy environment and that the dignity of every person, regardless of his sexual orientation is inalienable".
Same-sex couples in the country can tie the knot in town halls. The measure, however will not grant adoption rights to gay couples but if one partner dies and had a child, the other partner will have guardianship rights.
If both partners are alive and one of them has a child, the other will be recognized as a stepparent.
Croatia's liberal Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic proposed the legislation, saying he was determined to bring equal rights for LGBT people, Gay Star News reports.
"Of course marriage equality is something we all demand, but it is still a huge step," Jurcic told GSN. "Almost every country that now has marriage equality has had this step in between. While on 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 year, the Catholic Church gained 750,000 signatures, over one-fifth of Croatia's population, to demand a ban on same-sex marriage. The constitution was changed, banning same-sex marriage by defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.