December 1 marks five years since Croatia voted in a referendum to define marriage as a union ‘between a man and a woman’, effectively banning gay marriage in the predominantly Catholic nation that only five months earlier had become the newest member of the European Union.
The main force behind the vote, the conservative group In the Name of the Family, will mark the occasion “and all the successes of the first five years” with a ‘donation dinner’ the following week at a downtown hotel in the Croatian capital, according to an invitation seen by BIRN.
Less than a year after the plebiscite, the Life Partnership Act gave gay couples in Croatia all the rights enjoyed by married heterosexual couples, with the exception of the right to foster or adopt a child.
LGBT activist Ivan Zidarevic and his partner were the first to register their life partnership at a ceremony performed in front of a registrar. Some 259 gay couples have since followed suit.
He recalled hearing about the plans of the then Social Democratic government to adopt the law.
“My partner, now my husband, and I said to ourselves, ‘Okay, we’re not going abroad. Croatia will adopt a law, we should be patient.”
“It is de facto marriage because we have literally all rights to social care, healthcare…,” Zidarevic, who is originally from Serbia, told BIRN. “Everybody knows about us - our neighbours, my banker, my boss.”