Croatia: Overwhelming majority votes for constitutional recognition of natural marriage

December 2, 2013

Croatia opened its ballot boxes on Sunday—and citizens across the country demonstrated broad consensus on a crucial and fundamental question facing society: Should society entirely give up on the natural marriage as the cornerstone of civilization, re-define marriage as the union of any two adults, regardless of gender, and thus slip away into total arbitrariness? Or should marriage remain what it has always meant—a lifelong union between a woman and a man?

The result of yesterday’s referendum in Croatia is clear: 65.8% of voters chose to preserve marriage as a union of a woman and a man, by asking their government to recognize it as such in their constitution (33,5% voted against).

Attempts to downplay the result of the referendum came swiftly. The head of the government, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, hastened to assure the public: “This will be the last time that a majority takes away the rights of a minority.”

While Croatian media all but completely ignored the outcome of the historic referendum, international media outlets made great efforts to show that the results were anything but the will of ordinary Croatian citizens. “To prevent equal treatment of homosexual relationships, the powerful Catholic Church forced the referendum against the will of the left-wing government” (Germany’s Berliner Zeitung).

EU Business, Focus News Agency, and the BBC misinformed readers, claiming that the referendum asked whether gay marriage should be banned or outlawed. But truth is that there is no right to gay marriage in Croatia. Citizens were simply asked to answer “yes” or “no” to the question: “Do you support the introduction of a provision into the constitution of the Republic of Croatia that defines marriage as a life-long union of a woman and a man?”

A referendum is one of the clearest examples of direct democracy, with nearly 750,000 signatures were gathered to hold Sunday’s referendum. And all Croatians entitled to vote could have their say in the referendum. In fact, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted, the referendum brought people of different faiths together, with Orthodox, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews supporting the initiative. The fact that 65% of those who participated voted “yes” and 33% said “no” is a clear and simple sign of this democratic process—all the more impressive given the intense pressure that the media and government officials, including the Prime Minister and Education Minister, put on organizers of the referendum and their allies over the past few weeks.

The result of the referendum does not take anyone’s rights away. All Croatian citizens will continue to have the same rights after the vote as they did before the vote. The only thing that Croatians have called for through Sunday’s referendum is for their country’s constitution to recognize and protect a unique institution—a man and a woman joined together in a life-long union—and to treat it as such. This is the very definition of justice.