March 22, 2018 / 10:39 AM / in 8 months

Croatia pushes treaty on violence against women despite protests

FILE PHOTO: Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic arrives at the EU summit meeting in Brussels, Belgium, October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli

ZAGREB (Reuters) - The Croatian government urged parliament on Thursday to ratify a European treaty designed to combat violence against women despite opposition within the ruling party, among conservative groups and from the local Catholic Church.

Though supporting the need to combat violence against women, opponents object to the treaty’s definition of gender which they say paves the way for introducing transsexual or transgender as separate categories, which they oppose.

Arguing the case for ratification, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told a cabinet session that it would strengthen “the legal, institutional and financial framework for combating violence against women and within families.”

Some conservative groups plan to stage a protest against ratification in the capital Zagreb at the weekend and say they will push for a referendum on the issue.

To appease opponents, the government has adopted a separate statement on the ratification saying that the Council of Europe’s convention will not bring a change to Croatia’s legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Some top members of the leading party in the ruling coalition, the conservative HDZ, also voiced discontent with the planned ratification. It is still not clear when the parliament will vote on the issue.

Last month the same treaty was rejected in two other eastern EU members, Bulgaria and Slovakia, for similar objections about the definition of gender as “social roles, behaviors, activities and characteristics that a society considers appropriate for women and men”

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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