Zagreb Pride’s reaction to the decision of the Constitutional Court: All laws which refer to married spouses must apply to life partners as well

Zagreb Pride welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court, by which courts and competent authorities are instructed to provide life partners with the possibility of fostering children without adequate parental care on equal terms. This decision does not come as a surprise. As of 2014, when the Croatian Parliament passed the Life Partnership Act, life partners have been guaranteed equal treatment as married spouses in all spheres of life. This includes the guarantee of the prohibition of less favorable treatment when exercising the rights and services of the social welfare system (Chapter 7 of the Life Partnership Act), which undoubtedly includes foster care. In short, life partners have had the right to be foster families since 2014

We would like to remind all public services, public authorities, tax administration offices, courts and all representatives of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) that all persons in the Republic of Croatia have the right to be respected and the right to the legal protection of their personal and family life and human dignity. This includes the right of life partners to be treated as equals to married spouses in all areas of life, from the street, the court and housing, to the police station or the social welfare center. 

Since the adoption of the Life Partnership Act, we have been warning members of the Croatian Parliament, especially those who are on the Gender Equality Committee, that when adopting special laws and regulations which refer to married and common-law spouses, such as the Foster Care Act, life partners must be included. 

This is not necessary only because new regulations must be in accordance with the Life Partnership Act, but also because law enforcement institutions cannot be allowed to have any legal doubts or uncertainties, as was the case with the Foster Care Act. The Life Partnership Act is an organic law and all specific regulations must be in accordance with it.

Since 2016, when HDZ took over the Croatian government, life partners have persistently been left out of specific laws. The Foster Care Act is not the only law which the committees responsible for gender equality and family did not manage to align with the Life Partnership Act before it was adopted in this term of Parliament. Other forms of institutional discrimination against life partners have also been left unchecked, especially in areas of tax and inheritance.

This legal confusion is the responsibility of lawmakers and members of the ruling majority who propose regulations that exclude life partners, as well as lawmakers and members of the opposition who react to laws such as these only after the damage has already been done.  

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