Croatian activists to challenge law barring gay couples from fostering children

Zagreb (AFP) –


Croatian gay rights groups on Tuesday slammed a new law that blocks same sex couples from becoming foster parents and vowed to fight it in the country's top court.

The new law was adopted by parliament last Friday after a heated debate in the staunchly Catholic country over whether same-sex couples should be eligible to take in children.

"As soon as this discriminatory law enters into force we will file a complaint with the constitutional court," Daniel Martinovic of Rainbow Families association, an association of same-sex parents, told AFP.

It "once again sends a message to (LGBT) 'life partners' that they are second-class citizens, and also doesn't take childrens' best interests into account," he said.

Croatia, which joined the European Union in 2013, has seen a gradual liberalisation of gay rights in recent years.

Homosexual couples are unable to marry legally but can register as "life partners" since 2014.

During the debate on the law, Stevo Culej, an MP of the ruling conservative HDZ, asked another deputy whether he would "give a child to two (participants) of the gay pride parade with bare butts."

The comments were lambasted in local media as deeply homophobic.

Ahead of the vote, more than 200 prominent Croatian psychologists and sociologists in a statement voiced hope that lawmakers would not be led by "prejudices and stereotypes" and deprive children of a chance to be paired with foster parents "regardless of their sexual orientation."

Afterwards, Mladen Kozic and Ivo Segota, a gay couple aspiring to become foster parents, wrote an open letter to the government saying that by "refusing to include life partners' families in the law ... you further boosted stigma and gave it a legal framework."

Around 262 gay couples have registered as life partners in Croatia.