looked deeper into the statement of the Prime Minister to investigate its accuracy.
Latvia joined the European Union on 1 May 2013, while Croatia did the same on 1 July 2013.Before 2005, Article 110 of the Constitution of Latvia
read as follows: “The state should protect and support marriage, family, the rights of parents and the rights of a child.” On 15 September 2005, the ruling party of Latvia proposed the constitutional amendment that would create the constitutional grounds for avoiding same-sex marriages in the future. The proposition was supported by two-thirds of the members of the Parliament of Latvia and Article 110 of the Constitution was adapted into the following: “The State shall protect and support marriage - a union between a man and a woman, family, the rights of parents and the rights of a child…”As for Croatia, on 1 December 2013, Croatia held a referendum on which the voters decided to introduce amendments to the Constitution for redefining the definition of marriage more precisely. Before the aforementioned decision, Article 61 of the Constitution of Croatia
proclaimed: “Marriage and legal relations in marriage, common-law marriage and families shall be regulated by law.” From January 2004, Article 61 of the Constitution of Croatia was formulated in the following wording: “Marriage is a union between a man and a woman.”Rendering the aforementioned paragraph to the Constitution aimed at prohibiting same-sex marriages. The referendum
on this subject was initiated by the Croatian Catholic Church and based upon the signatures of 700,000 citizens. The abovementioned initiative was supported by the radical right-wing forces. Of note is the fact that the initiative was a backlash against the proposition of the Government of Croatia to legalise same sex-marriages.
It is also of importance to mention that the leaders of the left-wing ruling socialist coalition, President, Ivo Josipović, and Prime Minister, Zoran Milanović, supported by human rights organisations and the majority of Croatian media representatives, were opposed to the referendum and the constitutional changes. The President of Croatia declared that marriage was already defined by the legislation of Croatia. The question posed at the referendum (regardless of the referendum results) contained a discriminatory message; in addition, holding the referendum of this sort only meant the squandering of taxpayers’ resources. According to the statement of Prime Minister Milanović, the aforementioned referendum enabled the majority to deprive the minorities of their rights.Croatia has had the Family Act
since 2003. The provision of Article 5 of the Family Act lays down the legal definition of marriage. According to it, marriage is a life union of a woman and a man regulated by the law. As for the legislation of Georgia, based upon Article 3 of the Law of Georgia on Marriage and Regulating Post-Marital Relationship, a couple can consist of a woman and a man and the current law concerns only couples of the opposite sex.
Despite the resistance of the supreme officials, Croatia still held a referendum. In November 2013, 104 members of the Croatian Parliament, out of 151, supported the aforementioned referendum. To the question of the referendum: “Do you agree with the proposition that marriage is a union between a man and a woman?,” 65% of the population responded positively while 34% were opposed.
The aforementioned referendum and the constitutional amendments were followed by negative international response. As concerns the European Union, no official statement has been issued on the subject of the Croatian referendum. According to the declaration of the European Commission the definition of marriage is a national competence.
Irakli Gharibashvili’s statement concerning the legislative changes in the definition of marriage introduced in Latvia and Croatia is correct. However, the Prime Minister wrongly asserts that Croatia made the aforementioned constitutional changes before becoming an EU member. Croatia has introduced the constitutional amendments since January 2013 after seven months of EU membership.
Of particular note is the fact that the leaders of the ruling socialist coalition of Croatia, President, Ivo Josipović, and Prime Minister, Zoran Milanović, supported by human rights organisations and the majority of Croatian media representatives, were opposed to the referendum and the constitutional changes. Furthermore, the Government of Croatia even proposed the legitimisation of same-sex marriages.FactCheck concludes that the statement of the Prime Minister of Georgia: “I propose to make a constitutional change by including the definition that a family is the union of a man and a woman. Latvia did the same, as well as Croatia before entering the EU last year,” is MOSTLY FALSE.
Originally published in The Financial, issue N. 16(396)