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Croatia, the newest member nation of the European Union, is also the latest country to ban gay marriage. A majority of Croats have voted to amend the country's constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Both Croatia's president and prime minister spoke out against the ban, but the majority of the Croatian parliament, the opposition party HDZ and the Catholic Church were in favor of it. The referendum was first proposed by a Catholic group called "U ime obitelji," or "In the Name of the Family." Ninety percent of Croatia's 4.4 million people identify as Catholic; with most of the votes counted, about two thirds were in favor of the ban.

While the vote is a blow to equal rights for homosexuals, the BBC pointed out that things have, on the whole, improved for them in the Balkan state:

In Zagreb's first gay pride parade in 2002, dozens of participants were beaten up by extremists.

Parades are now held regularly although under heavy security.

Clearly, there's still a long way to go.

Croatia joined the European Union in July after about a decade of negotiations. President Ivo Josipovic said then that "the accession of Croatia to the European Union is confirmation that each one of us belongs to the European democratic and cultural set of values."

Then, crowds celebrated the country's admittance in capital city Zagreb's Ban Jelacic square. On the eve of the same-sex marriage vote, crowds filled another Zagreb square, St. Mark's, to protest the ban.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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