Staunchly Catholic Croatia May Ban Gay Marriage in Constitution

Croatia, the newest member of the 28-nation European Union, will hold a referendum on whether to allow gay marriages but rights groups say the vote is unconstitutional.

Parliament voted Friday to have a Dec. 1 ballot with the question: "Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?"

If a majority vote "yes" in the referendum, Croatia's constitution will be amended to ban gay marriages.

Human rights groups have announced an appeal against the referendum, claiming it infringes on basic human rights. An anti-gay group, meanwhile, gathered over 700,000 signatures in support of the vote.

The dispute over gay rights has divided Croatia. The country has taken steps to improve gay rights, but issues such as same-sex marriage remain highly sensitive in the staunchly Catholic nation.

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