A gay couple is set to make history in Croatia. Ivo Segota and Mladen Kozic are set to be the first same-sex couple in the entire country to foster a child following a groundbreaking ruling from an administrative court in Zagreb.
According to the German outlet Deutsche Welle, Segota and Kozic were among the first couples in Croatia to register for a domestic partnership following the passage of the Life Partnership Act in 2014. Although a 2013 referendum limited the definition of marriage to one man and one woman under the Croatian Constitution, the legislation allowed limited protections for same-sex couples.
As legally recognized LGBTQ+ couples are not permitted to adopt under the law, the couple was denied the chance to foster a child. After filling out an application in 2017 and passing multiple rounds of examinations, they were ultimately rejected by a local placement center.
After the Croatian Family Ministry rejected Segota and Kozic’s appeal, they filed a court challenge to overturn the decision — saying the decision amounted to anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is banned in areas like housing and employment in Croatia, although anti-trans bias remains legal in the workplace.
The couple’s lawsuit also claimed that young people would be harmed if same-sex couple were denied the chance to foster children. “[E]very child has a right to grow up in a family, and not an orphanage,” Kozic said, as Deutsche Welle reported.
Ultimately, the court ruled in Segota and Kozic’s favor. “We are overjoyed,” Segota told the Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list after the ruling came down.
Although the couple’s legal team claims they do not expect an attempt by the government to appeal the decision, the fight isn’t over. Same-sex couples will remain banned from fully adopting a child until that gap in the Life Partnership Act is addressed — either through legislation or further litigation.
Deutsche Welle did not report whether a bill to address the adoption rights of same-sex couples is currently in the works.
Overall, Croatia still has a ways to go when it comes to affirming equal rights and protections for queer and trans people. LGBTQ+ people are banned from donating blood in Croatia, and conversion therapy remains legal. Croatia ranked as Europe’s 17th most LGBTQ+ affirming country in the advocacy group ILGA’s most recent report.