Quality of sound during last night's airing of Croatian Basketball Championship finale was bad. Croatian state television commentator quickly offered explanation in the form of television's best equipment being mobilised for the coverage of upcoming papal visit.
In other areas papal visit had more beneficial consequences for Croatia. One of those consequences is the end of the most pointless political row in Croatia.
As some of my blog readers know, the issue of same sex unions has divided the governing coalition. Nominally leftist SDP wanted to portray itself as "progressive" party by aggressively promoting idea of same sex unions being introduced in new Family Act. However, main partner of SDP in governing coalition happens to be HSS, party with almost exclusively rural voting base. HSS leaders, when confronted about their ideological alignment, like to present themselves as conservative guardians of Croatian traditional values. Needless to say, idea of same sex unions was not particularly welcome in that party and the most vigorous opposition to this initiative came from HSS representatives in Sabor. The issue was quietly swept under the carpet few months ago (with even some of SDP government ministers expressing reservations about it) only to re-emerge in last few days.
Davorko Vidović, SDP minister of welfare, has recently announced that the same sex unions into the bill that was supposed to go in Sabor. Vladimir Simonić (Vladimir Simonic), deputy prime minister from HSS, reacted by refusing to support it at the cabinet meeting.
In the end, Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) finally remembered that this latest row has exploded only days before Pope's visit to Croatia. His party's aggressive push gay rights agenda could easily backfire in case of Pope publicly speaking against gay marriages in front of hundreds of thousands of potential voters. In the end, a compromise was announced – same sex unions would be legalised, but not in the Family Act. SDP thus accepted HSS objections over same sex unions being treated as "families".
Of course, this compromise could have been reached many months ago. If SDP indeed cared that much about gay rights the exact legal definition would be the last of its concern. But gay rights row served Račan (Racan) and his people wonderfully by taking public attention from the more important economic issues.
Another good thing about this compromise is in Cabinet accepting objections of Ingrid Antičević-Martinović (Ingrid Anticevic-Martinovic), minister of justice. Despite her SDP membership she had objected against introduction of same sex unions, but her real problem with proposed Family Act was the lack of surrogate motherhood. New, revised bill would introduce this institution.