The state of votes
A society founded on family values
FOR equality, AGAINST discrimination
Gabriela Gorupec | 2013. November 24. 21:14
Today, the constitution of Croatia does not define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. However, it would be important to inscribe its as such not only because of the positive affect it would have on our legislations, but also for of the positive affect it would have on our society.
A union between a man and woman is not a mere term, but day-to-day reality for 1 91 8974 citizens in Croatia. The union of a man and a woman in marriage is imannent to the values, culture and the identity of the Croatian people. A clear definition of marriage in the Constitution is in our national intrest. It is neccesary for the future of our families that marriage, as a union between a man and woman, be protected by the Constitution – the highest authority in Croatia. Why should it be incorporated in the Constituion and not in "just" laws? Simply because it is harder to amend the Constitution.
The importance of the definition of marriage is primordial for the definition of family. The difference between married couples and same-sex couples is reflected in the current regulation: the right to children is only granted to families. Why is that so? The current law prevents same-sex couples from having children as mother nature does. The rights that same-sex relationships enjoy are identic to the ones that a man and a woman would have in marriage except regarding children. Having children is the natural purpose of a sexual union and persons in a same-sex union cannot reproduce in a way God made the creation of new life possible. If same sex marriage was legalized, it would result in a significant change to our society. Marriage as a commitment to future offspring would be secondary as the primary purpose of marriage would be to protect a sexually intimate relationship.
This referendum does not violate human rights. On the contrary, it empowers all human rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR) and in the European Convention. Article 21. Of UNHR points out that „everyone has the right to take part in the government of their country, directly or through freely chosen representatives“ and that „the will of the people shall be the foundation of the authority of government“. A redefintion of marriage would involve the redefinition of the terms father and mother. It would not only increase surrogate motherhood, but it would also cause changes in our education curriculum, where children would be told stories about love between the same sex. It would force us to live a life where we would be hindred to live in harmony with our Christian beliefs, would not have the right to express our freedom of speech.
Opponents may feel that the cost for this referendum is too high, but we should never forget that there is no price that is too high if we want democracy. Croatia is obliged to grant its citizens the right to excercise their political rights. In the current economic crisis, our politicians decided to focus on the redefinition of marriage. We have not mandated them for this attempt to redefine marriage and therefore they need to be stopped. Our politicians have mistrusted us too many times. Local elections and elections for the European Parlament were held at two different dates, because Prime Minister Zoran Milanović claimed that it was the "price of democracy". It is important to encourage our citizens by showing them that they can make a change and that democracy allows them to make a statement through the means of a referedum. We are not objects of manipulation, but subjects in democracy. Voting in favour of the question is the way to express our Christian belief and the way to define our future.
Marina Kostenko | 2013. November 24. 12:14
Thanks to the civic initiative of "In the name of the family", Croatian society is now deeply divided between those who are "FOR" and those who are "AGAINST" constitutional changes. Those words mark the everyday life of Croatians, and could have far-reaching consequences that many people may not clearly see right now.
From a procedural point of view, calling this referendum was legitimate and on this point there is no dispute. However, what is questionable is the necessity or the impropriety of its holding, considering the costs which it carries, the legal foundations for the definition that is to be written in the Constitution, and the question of basic human rights which could be seriously violated by the constitutional changes.
Croatia has lately been increasingly troubled by the heavy division among its citizens, and one of the reasons for this is the atmosphere created around the civic initiative “In the name of the family”. For starters, many consider even holding the referendum as being problematic, given its costs which amount to 47 million kuna (6,3 million €). Having in mind that the country is in a deep economic crisis without significant signs of imminent recovery, many citizens consider this cost highly unnecessary at the least. In times where the authorities do not or cannot find solutions to the problem of high unemployment and to many other problems, the cost of holding the referendum that consistently pops up in public, in some way offends those who are fighting for their own survival at the same time.
Even if the unneccesary costliness of the referendum is left aside, the question of legal basis of the referendum and subsequent possible constitutional changes still remains. The Croatian Constitution, as such, is not a legal glossary which is supposed to contain the definition of individual institutions (in this case – the definition of marriage), or at least this wasn’t the case until now. Article 61 of the Constitution states: “The family is under the special protection of the state. Marriage and legal relations in marriage, cohabitation and family are regulated by law.” So, what this initiative wants to protect – the family – is already protected in the Constitution. Furthermore, the Constitution does not define, but points to further defining of the institution under the Law. In this case, it is the Family law in which the article 5 states: “Marriage is a legally regulated community of a man and a woman.” If we look at the desired constitutional change from this perspective, it raises an obvious question: Is it even necessary? We can conclude that the Family law clearly defines marriage the way the civic initiative wants it to, and the family as the primary object of protection already has the strongest – constitutional protection. However, the current legal and constitutional provisions are clearly not sufficient for some, so they want to penetrate in the sphere of family and living communities even more deeply.
Because of that, we come to the most important instance – the protection, or in this case, the violation of human rights. This will be a referendum on the choice between protecting human rights and lives of LGBTQ citizens or their deliberate exclusion and degradation on the social ladder. The civic initiative states on its website that it “brings together individuals, families and civic organizations that promote general human values.” But is it actually true? The adoption of the provision on the definition of marriage will directly discriminate against one community, with a message that they are not equally worthy and valuable. In a country in the 21st century, that is a member of the EU and that has signed all of its conventions and agreements on human and minority rights, the recognition of the same rights is inhibited. The state is there to protect and respect all individuals as equal and equally valuable citizens. On the contrary, the initiative and the potential constitutional changes will create a division in the society on the citizens of the first and second order, by attacking the very dignity of these people.
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