Saturday, 10 April 2021

Lesbian Couple in Croatia Finally Receive Excerpt from Life Partnership Register After Lawsuit

April 10, 2021 – After a long and, as they consider, unnecessary lawsuit, a lesbian couple in Croatia has finally received an excerpt from the life partnership register.

As Večernji list reports, after a wedding in another European country, two wives originally from Croatia decided to have 'proper papers' in Croatia, too. However, after they were denied an excerpt from the life partnership register, they initiated administrative proceedings to obtain an excerpt they thought they were entitled to. They did this through the permanent legal service of Zagreb Pride and their partner lawyer office, Bandalo & Labavić.

Croatia's High Administrative Court's judgment legally confirmed that they were discriminated against in Croatia because the Zagreb registry office did not want to issue them an excerpt from a life partnership but only registered this fact in the form of a birth certificate.

They state that the Life Partnership Act of 2014 clearly stipulates that life partners "have the same procedural rights and status in all judicial and administrative proceedings as spouses "(Article 37, paragraph 4).

"They asked for a document that would have been automatically issued to them if they had entered into a heterosexual marriage, an ordinary wedding certificate. The path to this 'paper' went through the administrative court, which gave them the right in the first instance and added that the registry office, by refusing to issue them an excerpt, violated many regulations. Those regulations include the Anti-Discrimination Act, the Constitution of Croatia, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Maastricht Treaty, and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. But in the first place, the Life Partnership Law is not respected, which incorporates the principle of 'guaranteeing the prohibition of unfavorable treatment' of life partners in relation to spouses.

The court made it clear that same-sex marriage entered abroad is equated in Croatia with a life partnership. Therefore, there is no reason why they should not be entered in the Life Partnership Register, as a foreign heterosexual marriage would be registered in the marriage register and not as a birth certificate. However, the Ministry of Administration appealed against this decision, rejecting their request for entry in the Life Partnership Register, formally referring to the Instruction on keeping that register, i.e., the lowest level regulation, ignoring the Life Partnership Act, the Anti-Discrimination Act, and the Constitution of Croatia.

The High Administrative Court did not accept this appeal either, stating that 'the rejection of the request for registration same-sex marriage entered abroad in the life partnership register in Croatia resulted in discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation'. The court pointed out that a heterosexual marriage would be immediately registered in the Croatian Registry of marriages, and that, therefore, as an equivalent, same-sex marriage should be entered in the Life Partnership Register," the Zagreb Pride said in a statement.

They are happy to "finally prove that they were right from day one and that their same-sex marriage in another country entered in the Croatian Life Partnership Register."

"This case, as well as last year's decision of the Constitutional Court which enabled same-sex families to adopt children, clearly shows how outdated and meaningless the constitutional restriction from 2013 is. Until the Constitution's change, which will equalize all families in all rights and obligations, we will be unnecessarily exhausted in offices and courts. In the end, we would always show that the constitutional provision on the prohibition of same-sex marriage is simply unnatural.

For now, we expect the Ministry of Justice and Administration to urgently amend the disputed part of the Instruction on keeping the life partnership register, in the part that was declared discriminatory in the High Administrative Court," the statement reads.

To read more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

2020 Sees Drop in Marriages, Rise in Life Partnerships in Croatia

ZAGREB, 9 March, 2021 - A total of 36,257 births were registered in Croatia in 2020 as against 36,553 in 2019, the Večernji List daily said on Tuesday, quoting data from the Justice and Public Administration Ministry.

In 2020 there were 15,163 marriages, of which 6,497 took place in a religious ceremony and 8,666 in a civil ceremony. This is as many as 4,779 fewer marriages than in 2019. Last year also saw 66 life partnerships between persons of the same sex, an increase of 47 life partnerships compared to 2019. Most life partnerships were registered in Zagreb and in Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Istria counties.

A total of 59,814 persons died in 2020, an increase from 54,050 deaths in 2019.

On 31 December 2020, there were 4,610,461 voters on the electoral register, of whom 3,709,444 lived in Croatia and 901,017 abroad.

Most out-of-country voters were from Bosnia and Herzegovina (322,298), followed by Germany (118,587) and Serbia (115,492).

The citizenship of 178,867 voters was not known.

 For more news about Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 5 August 2019

How to Obtain Croatian Citizenship Through Marriage to a Croatian Citizen

August the 5th, 2019 - Last year, I wrote about all the ways one can gain legal Croatian residence. From short term residence (kratkotrajni boravak) to temporary residence (privremeni boravak), all the way to the deeply desired golden egg known as permanent residence (stalni boravak). The paths to citizenship vary, so how does one obtain Croatian citizenship via marriage?

There are many methods, and if you're from a European Union country, getting from point A to point B and C is usually fairly simple. If you're not from the European Economic Area, your path to securing residence following your 90 days of free stay in Croatia can depend on many factors and usually aren't as straightforward as they are for EEA citizens. Click here if you'd like to delve into that quagmire which I continually update as law changes come into effect. Oh, and pour yourself a large drink.

Recently, I wrote a guide on how you go from temporary resident to becoming a Croatian citizen as an unmarried foreigner through a process known as naturalisation. Click here to read that, and get another drink in order.

On that same citizenship note, I thought I'd continue through the paths that can lead a foreigner to Croatian citizenship, all of which are laid down by the Law on Croatian Citizenship. Let's tackle another method of getting your hands on that little blue passport - through marriage to a Croatian citizen.

If you're a foreign national and you're married to a Croatian citizen, you're entitled to residence in Croatia, but contrary to popular belief, it doesn't automatically give you the right to become a citizen of this country. It's amazing how many people still believe this to be true. Maybe it comes from the old ''you're only doing it for the Green Card'' chestnut from across the Atlantic in the USA, but no, an immediate right to a passport is not something that exists. Not in America, and certainly not here.

So, how do you obtain Croatian citizenship? Read on.

If you're married to a Croatian citizen, and if you're a permanent resident of Croatia yourself, then you can apply for naturalisation without having to meet several of the requirements asked of unmarried naturalisation applicants. Still, it must be able to be seen from your behaviour that you respect the law, culture, and the way Croatian society is arranged. You must be of no threat to public order or national security. And yes, you will likely be asked for a multitude of documents depending on your situation.

Here are the requirements for naturalisation for a foreign national not married or in a registered life partnership with a Croatian citizen that you, as a foreigner who is married or in a registered life partnership do not have to fulfil:

1.) A foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen must not have had their working capacity taken away from them. What this actually means remains unclear and is likely left up to discretion, like many things. If you're naturalising as a foreigner married to a Croatian citizen, you do not need to fulfil this requirement.

2.) A foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen technically needs to provide release from their other citizenship in order to gain Croatian citizenship. There are catches to this rule which don't always make that the case, which I have explained in more detail, with a copy of that particular piece of law here. If you're a foreigner naturalising and you're married to a Croatian citizen, you do not have to provide proof of release from your other citizenship in any case.

3.) If you're a foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen, you must have permanent residence and have lived in Croatia for a lawful, uninterrupted period of eight years at the time of submitting the application for citizenship. If you're a foreigner married to a Croatian citizen, you still must have approved permanent residence (acquired after five years of lawful, uninterrupted residence in Croatia, although there are exceptions to that rule which I have listed here), but your period of time living in Croatia does not need to amount to eight years.

4.) If you're a foreigner naturalising as a Croatian citizen and you're not already married to a Croatian citizen, then you need to prove your knowledge of the Croatian language, the Latin script, culture and the way society is arranged. The details of that are explained here. If you're a foreigner naturalising and you are married to a Croatian citizen, you technically don't have to prove this. 

However, there are still multiple cases of foreigners seeking citizenship who are married to Croatian citizens being asked to prove this. As with many other things with Croatian law, it can often be how an official or an administrative clerk decides to interpret things. You could ask at one MUP building and be told yes, and then ask at another the same day and be told no.

As stated, this is the appropriate part of the Law on Croatian Citizenship for unmarried foreigners following the naturalisation process. I have chosen to translate only the requirements and not the exceptions to some of these rules (you can read about those exceptions here), as this is merely to explain the requirements you do not have to fulfil as a person who is married to a Croatian citizen.

A foreigner who has submitted an application for Croatian citizenship can acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalisation if they meet the following requirements: 

1.) That they are over the age of 18 and have not had their ability to work (working capacity) taken from them

2.) That they have proof of release from their foreign citizenship or if they provide proof that they will be released from their foreign citizenship if they are allowed to acquire Croatian citizenship

3.) That they have lived in the Republic of Croatia with a registered residence for 8 uninterrupted years up until the point of submitting the application, and that they have the status of permanent residence as a foreigner

4.) That they know the Croatian language and the Latin script, the Croatian culture and the way society is arranged

5.) That it can be concluded from their behaviour that they respect the legal system and the customs of the Republic of Croatia

Okay, got that? Good. Now let's look at the piece of legislation for those of you who are applying for naturalisation but are married or in a registered life partnership with a Croatian citizen. As I did above, I'll provide the English translation in italic font.

A foreigner who is married to a Croatian citizen and who has approved permanent residence and lives on the territory of the Republic of Croatia can acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalisation even if they do not fulfil the requirements from article 8, paragraph 1, the points from 1-4 of this law.

Points 1-4 of the Law on Croatian citizenship which you do not have to fulfil if you're married to a Croatian citizen are listed above. As you can see, proving your knowledge of the Croatian language, Latin script and the Croatian culture and the way society is arranged is not obligatory, despite the fact that some spouses of Croatian citizens claim to have been asked to prove it by MUP.

As with everything official in this country, you must submit your application in person to MUP (an administrative police station), and the documents you must provide along with your application to naturalise when married to a Croatian citizen are as follows:

Your curriculum vitae (CV)

An extract from the birth register and an extract from the marriage register issued within the last 6 months (the said documents need not be submitted if your birth and marriage have been entered in the national registers of the Republic of Croatia)

A certificate proving your citizenship status

A police clearance certificate issued by a competent foreign authority of your country of citizenship and the country of your permanent residence (which at this point would be Croatia), issued within the last 6 months

A certified copy of a valid (government issued) identity document (such as a passport) containing a visible photo of you

As I explained in my previous article about naturalisation as an unmarried foreigner, other documents may be required of you depending on your personal circumstances as many cases regarding residence and citizenship in Croatia are conducted on a highly individual basis. This is something that has both good and bad sides to it. If you can use it to your advantage, do so.

You will be informed of the outcome of your request in due time, in official written form. If your application is accepted, you'll be asked to come and pay the necessary fees when collecting MUP's decision and informed of what to do next. You'll also be invited to come and pay the necessary fees when coming to collect a rejection from MUP. In both cases, you need to go to MUP in person.

If you'd like to know more about residence and citizenship in Croatia, make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page. Our articles on residence and citizenship will be updated as and when laws change, so it might be worth bookmarking the links I have provided within this article for future use.