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Croatia votes in anti-gay marriage referendum

Croatia votes in anti-gay marriage referendum
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Should Croatia constitutionally ban gay marriage?

That is the question being answered by
voters on Sunday in a controversial referendum spearheaded by a Catholic group.

It wants marriage formally defined as a union between a man and a woman.

But, as he voted, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that the exercise was “sad and pointless”.

His centre-left government wants a bill allowing gay couples to register their partnerships to be adopted within two weeks.

“This is going to change things in a positive and not a negative manner,” he said.

In staunchly Catholic Croatia, however, not everyone agrees.

In an opinion poll this week, 68 percent of those who have decided to vote said they would back the demand for the constitution to stipulate that marriage must only be heterosexual.

Opponents say that is discriminatory and anti-gay. They have demonstrated in Zagreb, the capital of the EU’s newest member state, urging voters to defeat the move.

But leaders of the conservative opposition backed the referendum demand. And the group behind it is adamant that the definition of marriage must be enshrined in the constitution so that it can’t be changed by amendments to the law.

Parliament had to call the referendum after the Catholic group – “In the Name of the Family” -gathered more than 740,000 signatures in support of the vote.