Newest EU state bans gay marriage
Over 65 percent of Croatians on Sunday (1 December) voted in favour of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a "union between a man and a woman."
The result came after a high-profile campaign by the Roman Catholic church to prevent the legalisation of gay marriage.
The legally binding referendum asked the question: "Do you agree that marriage is the union between a man and a woman?"
It was the first citizen-initiated referendum since Croatia's independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
The referendum was initiated by a Catholic group, who gathered enough signatures to make the Croatian Parliament call the public poll.
Croatian cardinal Josip Bozanic wrote a pro-referendum letter that was read out in churches the day of the vote.
"Marriage is the only union enabling procreation. This is the key difference between a marriage and other unions," he said.
Some 90 percent of the 4.4 million people in the EU's newest member state are Catholics.
The centre-left government did not support the initiative.
Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic also called the vote "sad and pointless."
"The intimate space of a family is not something we should get involved in," he told reporters on Sunday.
His government will next week propose a bill on a form of partnership that will grant more rights to same-sex unions.
Ilga-Europe, the EU umbrella organisation for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people said it was "disappointed" by the Croatian referendum.
“We are seriously concerned by the fact that opponents to equality for all are using democratic tools to impose majority views on the rights of minority groups," said Gabi Calleja from Ilga-Europe. EUObserver