There were cheers and celebrations for the expected outcome of Croatia’s same sex marriage referendum.
It was a landslide victory for those who wanted marriage to stay exclusive as a union between man and women.
Everything started months ago with the “citizens initiative” called “In the name of the family”, who wanted their definition of marriage to find it’s place in Croatian constitution.
And they had strong support from many opposition political parties, various NGOs and the influential Catholic church which took a very proactive role in promoting a ban to same sex marriages.
At Sunday’s mass in Zagreb’s biggest cathedral local priest Ivan Miklenic openly invited it’s parish to go to the voting stations and vote for preserving the moral values of Christianity and marriage as union between man and woman.
And many did follow his lead.
On the eve of the referendum all the opinion polls were suggesting that a victory for the anti same sex marriage camp will be almost guaranteed, but the turnout was way below expectation.
Despite that, after referendum results are officially confirmed, Croatia’s constitution will be amended with the article outlawing any same sex marriage.
Those who’ve put their hearts and souls in preventing that move are feeling that they’ve exhausted all means for achieving their goal.
According to Sandra Bencic, from “Citizens Vote Against” this referendum is actually legalising discrimination of some minority groups. And she asked which one of those will be next?
The Croatian government did not want to see the constitution changed.
As the newest member of the EU, it wanted to present not just itself, but the entire nation as progressive, liberal and in the spirit of other Western European countries.
But after the referendum it will be hard for the government to maintain that image.
And the majority who voted at the referendum have sent a clear message to the government and to those concerned in Brussels.
Croatia is a country of traditional values and that’s something these people here, celebrating the referendum results, would like to be recognised.
Another important issue raised by some in Croatia is that the referendum cost bout $9m. They are saying that this country had far more pressing issues to tackle instead of spending this huge amount of money on a referendum which according to them, shouldn’t have been held in the first place.
With the results of this referendum Croatia joins Hungary, Poland, and other Eastern European nations in banning same sex marriages, adding up to a division inside the EU to a conservative East and a more liberal West.