Executive Summary

AuthorBojic, Ines
1. Introduction
In 1992, Croatia was recognised by the UN as an independent state. From 1 991 to 1995
Croatia was in a state of war. After a period of rather authoritarian leadership and
isolation from the international community, Croatia changed direction in the late nineties.
Croatia has been a Member State of the European Union since 1 July 2013.
According to the 2011 census, Croatia has a population of 4 284 889. The ethnic
structure of the country is as follows: Croats make up t he majority of the population with
a 90 % share. The most numerous minorities are Serbs (4.36 %), Bosniaks (0.73 %),
Italians (0.42 %), Hungarians (0.33 %), Albanians (0.41 %), Slovenians (0.25 %), and
Roma (officially 0.4 %, but unofficial estimates suggest up to 40 000 people or 0.9 %).
The official language is Croatian, but the Constitution gives all national minorities the
legal right to education in their native language. The religious structure of the population
is as follows: 86.28 % of citizens declare themselves Catholic; 4.44 % Orthodox; 1.47 %
Muslim; 2.93 % agnostic/undeclared; and 3.81 % of citizens declare themselves atheist.
The percentage of other religions is below 0.2 %.1
The position of the Government and official bodies towards discrimination has moved
from pro-nationalistic in the early nineties to denial in the late nineties and a more
egalitarian approach since 2000. Ever since then, independently of elections and changes
of Government, there has been slow but steady progress, which has been strongly
encouraged by human rights organisations as well as by the EU accession process and
other international bodies.
The Republic of Croatia is a unitary state. Government is organised on the principle of the
separation of powers into the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The judicial
system has two levels (first instance and appeal), with the possibility of extraordinary
remedies (such as review by the Supreme Court). Administrative decisions can be
subject to judicial review. The role of the Supreme Court, as the highest court, is to
ensure uniform application of laws and equal justice for all. Judicial office is permanent.
In principle, the courts’ decisions are binding only on the parties to the case and do not
set a precedent.
The duty of the People's Ombudsperson, as a commissioner of the Croatian Parliament, is
to protect the constitutional and legal rights of citizens in their dealings with the state
administration and bodies vested with public authority. Under the Anti-discrimination Act,
it is recognised as the specialised body for the promotion of equal treatment.
In 2013, a referendum on the definition of marriage was held, with the question put to
citizens: Do you support the provision defining marriage as a union of man and woman
to be included in the text of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia?. The majority of
citizens who voted in the referendum supported such a definition (65.8 %). Following the
referendum result, the Croatian Constitution was amended by adding the definition of
marriage as a union of man and woman.2 Before and after the referendum there were
vigorous public debates, round tables and other forms of public discussion on the topic of
granting the right to marriage to same-sex couples.3
1 Information about the 2011 census is available at: https://www.dzs.hr/Hrv_Eng/publication/2012/SI-
1468.pdf and https://www.dzs.hr/Hrv_Eng/publication/2012/SI-1469.pdf.
2 Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, 22 December 1990, Article 62(2).
3 Since then there has been no debate on the question, even though some areas are not regulated. For
example, adoption by same-sex couples is still not allowed.

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