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news 15 Nov 13

Croatia Court Gives Nod to Marriage Referendum

Croatian Consitutional Court says a referendum, on defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman exclusively, can go ahead.

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Croatia's Constitutional Court on Thursday said no grounds existed to annul parliament's decision to call a referendum on marriage for December 1.

The referendum will pose the question, “Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?”

If most people vote "yes," the constitution will be amended, effectively ruling out the possibility of gay marriage being legalised in the EU’s newest member state.

The Court reached its decision after two days of consultations on requests by citizens and associations seeking an assessment of the constitutionality of parliament's decision to hold the referendum.

Parliament called the referendum on the initiative of a socially conservative group called "On Behalf of the Family", which is supported by the Catholic Church and some opposition parties.

The initiative group requested a referendum after submitting 749,000 signatures of citizens to parliament in mid-June.

The initiative came immediately after Croatia's centre-left government started preparing a law potentially enabling gay marriage.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, of the ruling Social Democratic party, has expressed his disapproval about the referendum and indicated that he will probably vote against it.

However, the leader of the opposition Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ,  Tomislav Karamarko, supports both the vote and the idea of defining marriage as a heterosexual union.

This will be the third nationwide referendum in Croatia, but the first one taking place on the request of citizens.

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