Croatia backs same-sex adoption in landmark court ruling

The verdict means that same-sex adoption cannot be treated differently from opposite-sex adoption and is a massive win for LGBTQ+ rights in Croatia.


A court in Croatia has ruled that same same-sex adoption should be legalised and allowed under the same conditions as opposite-sex couples.

Zagreb’s Administrative Court backed an LGBTQ+ couple, who had complained after their adoption request was rejected by authorities. The Court said that same-sex couples should not face discrimination in state adoption.

Croatia’s Rainbow Families association has hailed the decision as a “historic” ruling.

“This verdict opens the door to all life partners in the Republic of Croatia who want to become adoptive parents and guarantees them that they must not be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation,” the association said in a statement.

Mladen Kozic and Ivo Segota originally took the complaint five years ago after a social welfare centre rejected their request to undergo evaluation as possible adoptive parents just because they were in a partnership. They felt this was discriminatory as even individuals can adopt in Croatia and they took legal action. After a long legal process it eventually led to this verdict.

“We are very happy because of this verdict, not only because of Mladen and Ivo, but also because of all the other couples who are considering adoption and who want to expand their family in that way,” said the president of the Rainbow Family Association Daniel Martinović to the media.

The ruling is not yet final as it could be appealed by the country’s ministry of labour, pensions, family and social policy, but there has been no indication as of yet that this will happen.

The couple had also been at the centre of legal action which overturned Croatia’s ban on same-sex couples fostering children earlier this year. In September the pair fostered two boys, becoming the first same-sex couple in Croatia to do so and this latest verdict now gives them the right to adoption.

The rights of LGBTQ+ people have gradually improved in recent years in EU member Croatia – a conservative, predominantly Catholic country. Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions since 2014 that give them almost the same rights as married heterosexual couples.

However, there is still a hostile atmosphere towards many LGBTQ+ people. In February, an effigy of two men and a child was burned at a festival in Southern Croatia. In 2013, almost two-thirds of Croatians voted in a 2013 referendum in favour of a motion that enshrined marriage in the country’s constitution as between a man and a woman.

“We are still witnessing discrimination,” said Martinović. “Our struggle does not end.”

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