Croatia: Same Sex Civil Union Law and Anti-Discrimination Protections Passed

The passage of the new Croatian Law on Same Sex Civil Unions, and the new Penal Code, Law on Gender Equality, and Labor Law that include provisions on prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, are remarkable achievements. These are the first national legal protections to take into account lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in Croatia. However, these important changes fall short of granting full equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, and the full extent of the new benefits will not be clear until after a period of legal and judicial interpretation.

ACTION

IGLHRC joins Croatian activists in requesting letters of thanks and encouragement for further work toward equal marriage rights to be sent to the Croatian State Administration, Croatian Parliament and the Ministry for Labor and Social Welfare.

Please send letters to:

Vlada Republike Hrvatske (Croatian State Administration)
Trg sv. Marka 2
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
E-mail: gordana.sobol@vlada.hr
Fax: +385 1 6303 019
Hrvatski sabor (Croatian Parliament)
Trg sv. Marka 6-7
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
E-mail: sabor@sabor.hr
Fax: +385 1 6303 008
Ministarstvo rada i socijalne skrbi (Ministry for Labor and Social Welfare)
Prisavlje 14
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
E-mail: ministar@mrss.hr
Fax: +385 1 6196 508

Please send a copy to activists at:

kontra@zamir.net and cenzena@zamir.net

MODEL LETTER

Dear Madam or Sir:

I write to congratulate you on the Croatian Republic's historic step towards extending partnership rights and anti-discrimination protections to Croatia's lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

By extending these rights, Croatia places itself among those countries committed to honoring the human rights principles of non-discrimination, the security of the family, and the protection of the right to form a family. Sexual orientation has been recognized as a grounds for protection against discrimination by the United Nations' Human Rights Committee since 1994. Anti-discrimination ordinances enacted around the world convey a message to marginalized people the message that they are welcome in their communities.

Croatia has joined the 18 countries around the world that currently grant all or some conjugal rights to same-sex couples (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). At the state or province level, in addition, four states in Australia, two in Argentina, nine in Canada, four in Spain, one in Switzerland and five in the USA grant some form of recognition to same-sex couples.

You can see, in almost all cases, countries where these rights are recognized also tend to earn the highest scores in terms of human development and gender equity. Development and true democracy go hand in hand with protection of loving, committed families, whatever form they take. Croatia's new legislation will help to build a healthier, more peaceful, and more inclusive society. I applaud your accomplishments, and encourage you to press forward in your work to support the full and equal protection of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and their families.

Sincerely,

Your name, address, organization

BACKGROUND

The final English version of the new family law (as translated by a local organizer) can be read here:

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/english/article/takeaction/resourcecenter/583.html

The final version of the new family law can be read in Croatian in the Official Gazette - Narodne novine:

http://www.nn.hr/clanci/sluzbeno/2003/1584.htm

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Right to non-discrimination and to equality before the law: Article 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Article 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Right to social security: Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of oneself and of one's family: Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11/12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Right to form a family: Article 16 of the UDHR, Article 23 of the ICCPR.

Right to the protection of the family: Article 16 of the UDHR, Article 10 of the ICESCR, Article 23 of the ICCPR.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights has made a similar observation, in its General Comment 14 on the right to health- to be applied to all economic, social and cultural rights.

Croatia ratified the ICCPR and the ICESCR in 1992. The UDHR is considered part of customary international law, and binding on all member States of the United Nations, like Croatia.