Croatia's ruling party criticizes gay partnerships

Croatian ruling party lawmakers on Friday criticized an opposition draft bill proposing that gay couples be entitled to register their partnerships, insisting that homosexual relations were against God and nature. The heated debate during which several lawmakers made openly hostile comments about gays indicated that the bill, drafted by two lawmakers from the left-center parties, will certainly be rejected by the chamber, where the ruling party controls majority.

"The whole universe is heterosexual, from an atom to a fly and an elephant," argued Lucija Cikes, a parliament deputy from the conservative governing Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ. The government had already recommended that parliament reject the bill, and it expected to do so. Several smaller conservative parties also said they would vote against it, making it impossible for the bill to win the necessary 76 votes in the 151-seat chamber.

Croats "are Catholics, and, as such, against homosexual couples," said Karmela Caparin, another ruling party deputy. Homosexuality remains taboo in Croatia , where nearly 90 percent of its 4.5 million people consider themselves Roman Catholics.

Even though attitudes have relaxed somewhat in recent years, many homosexuals still are intimidated and face violence. Earlier this month, several people were beaten up by a group that broke into a gay party. The two lawmakers who drafted the bill independent deputy Ivo Banac and Sime Lucin from the Social Democrats, the main opposition party insisted that same-sex couples are discriminated against in Croatia . They proposed that the gay couples be granted the right to register their partnerships, although not officially marry. Under the draft bill, they would be given the same health, social security, tax, pension and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples.

In Europe , a few countries have so far allowed same-sex couples to register their partnerships, such as Britain , the Netherlands , Spain , Belgium and Slovenia . A similar law was vetoed by the president in the Czech Republic , reports the AP.

N.U.

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