A gay couple has become the first same-sex foster parents in Croatia after successfully adopting two children.
Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić started a legal battle back in 2017 after their initial application to foster children was rejected. Three years later, a group of same-sex parents made the announcement that they had finally become parents.
The group, Rainbow Families, is led by Daniel Martinovic, who celebrated what this decision meant for the future of LGBT+ rights in the eastern European nation.
“This gives us hope that things in our country can still change,” Martinovic told AFP. He also said Rainbow Families will continue to fight for “full marital and family equality”.
LGBT+ rights have progressed greatly in the last decade in Croatia, with same-sex couples being able to register as life partners since 2014. In February it was ruled that same-sex couples in Croatia could be foster parents – though this wasn’t made a reality until now.
Šegota and Kožić – who work as a molecular biologist and a sociologist respectively – faced a lot of opposition though. When the 2018 fostering law was revised in February to explicitly include same-sex couples, an effigy of a gay couple carrying a child was burned in front of a cheering crowd.
Perhaps this is why now the couple has finally achieved their dream of having children, they intend to stay out of the media.
While Šegota and Kožić’s story may have had a happy ending, there is still a long way to go for full LGBT+ equality in Croatia. Life partnership does not offer the same protections as marriage, and 64 per cents of Croatians still oppose same-sex marriage.
The main reason listed for opposing it is the belief that “every child needs a mother and a father to grow up properly”.
Meanwhile, 2018 statistics from the Croatian Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy state there are about 800 children still waiting to be adopted.
In the wider Balkan region, LGBT+ rights have made new strides, with Bosnia holding its first Pride parade last year.
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