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Margareta Jelić, Petra Kožljan


University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia


In 2013 in Croatia a referendum took place regarding the issue of the Constitutional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. However, less than a year later the Croatian Parliament passed Life Partnership Act making same-sex couples equal in all rights to married couples, except for adoption. In this study we wanted to explore reactions of LGB individuals to the referendum and immediately after the Life Partnership Act was adopted. Aim of this study was to test the minority stress model in the changing context of Croatian society regarding the rights of LGB individuals. We wanted to explore cognitive, emotional and behavioural reactions of LGB persons following the referendum (that banned gay marriages) as well as the possible changes in their attitudes after the Life Partnership Act (that makes same-sex couples equal to married couples in everything except adoption) was adopted. Therefore, we conducted a qualitative study, specifically interviews with eleven LGB individuals (homosexual and bisexual, activist and non-activists) in two time points: immediately after the Referendum and following the Life Partnership Act. We analysed the results in terms of Meyer’s minority stress model. Taken in general, our findings confirm the minority stress model and highlight social context as an important determinant of minority stress for LGB individuals. The current state of the LGB rights is viewed as inadequate, but positive changes are expected in the future. The results also confirm the protective role of social support, both individual and collective, for LGBT individual when faced with minority stress. However, in some cases the LGB community fails to fulfil the expectations of its members which can turn it into a source of stress instead of support.


LGB, Croatian constitutional referendum, life partnership act, minority

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