Croatia Abandons Move to Define 'Family' After Protests

Croatia's centre-right government on Thursday caved in to protests and withdrew a draft proposal for a new law defining the family that had infuriated activists. Civil society groups welcomed the backdown - but said they were far from reassured and demanded to know who had been responsible for the wording.

"This is good news, because we wanted this definition to dissapear, but we must be on guard. It [the law] may return in some other form, or scattered in different articles of the law indirectly," Neva Tolle, from the Zagreb-based women rights NGO, Autonomous Women’s House, told BIRN.

The now withdrawn draft law narrowed the definition of what constitutes a family and left some categories out altogether.

“The family consists of: a mother, father and their children, a mother with a child or a father with a child although they do not live together, and other relatives living with them,” the draft stated. After the draft entered a month-long process of public debate on Thursday, many organisations and individuals criticised the planned definition for excluding people living in non-marital and same-sex unions, as well as heterosexual couples that do not have children.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told a government session on Thursday that this was not supposed to be the version presented to the public, but by then the draft had already caused uproar on social networks.

“Regarding the family law proposal and the fact that the daughter of my wife and I died, and we don’t have children, does it mean that we are not a family?” a user named Juha Pekka Salo asked on Twitter on Thursday.

Although the law has now been withdrawn, Tolle said acitvists wanted to know "who was responsible for a law containing such a definition of the family, and who the members of the working group working on the draft were".

Zagreb Pride, an NGO promoting LGBT rights, echoed those concerns. "We are interested to know who was responsible for this, who were the members of the working group and who will be held responsible for that, and in what way," it told BIRN.

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