Initial poll results on Sunday showed Croatia has backed amendments to its constitution that would ban same-sex marriage and strictly define the union along heterosexual lines.
Almost 65 percent of voters agreed to defining marriage as a “matrimony between a man and a woman,” according to the partial results from about one-third of polling stations that were released by the electoral commission.
Liberal groups opposed, saying it infringes on basic human rights, and both the government and public figures spoke out against the referendum. Croatian President Ivo Josipovic planned to vote against amending the constitution: “We don’t need this kind of a referendum,” he said. “Defining marriage between a man and a woman doesn’t belong to the constitution. A nation is judged by its attitude toward minorities.”
But groups backed by the Catholic Church garnered 750,000 signatures in support of the measure.
The vote, a major victory for Croatia’s conservatives, has divided the newest E.U. nation. About 90% of its 4.4 million people are Roman Catholic. Still, experts say the country’s attitude toward gay rights has shifted gradually since the first pride parade was held in Zagreb in 2002.