ZAGREB Croatia's government has proposed fines of $1,700 - about twice the average monthly salary - for prostitutes and their customers, targeting the buyers of sex for the first time.
Current legislation in the Balkan state already outlaws prostitution, but only sex workers have been prosecuted, not their clients.
Attempts by some liberal groups to legalize prostitution have never been seriously considered in the strongly Roman Catholic country, which is due to join the European Union next July.
The bill proposed by the centre-left government on Thursday would set fines of up to 10,000 Croatian kunas ($1,700) for both buyers and sellers of sex. The current fine for prostitutes is only 800 kunas.
The law would also impose fines of up to 5,000 kunas for people who have sex or expose themselves in public places.
The average monthly salary in Croatia, which has been struggling with recession since 2009, is around $970.
(Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)