ZAGREB, March 15, 2018 – Activists of the civic initiative “Truth About the Istanbul Convention” said at a news conference on Thursday that they were launching a campaign for a referendum at which Croatians would say if they want the national parliament to refuse to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the so-called Istanbul Convention.
The initiative’s coordinator Kristina Pavlović said that earlier in the day they sent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović an open letter asking her to call a referendum on the matter in line with her constitutional powers.
“Those who oppose the ratification of the Istanbul Convention do not support violence against women, they oppose the convention because of the gender ideology it contains. Even though the term ‘gender’ exists in some Croatian laws, it is defined for the first time in the Istanbul Convention as a social construct separate from the biological sex, which is the main postulate of gender ideology,” said Pavlović.
“If we are a sovereign country, we should be able to adopt and implement good laws on the prevention of violence on our own, rather than import dangerous and very expensive ideologies under the guise of the fight against violence,” she added.
The results of public consultation conducted on the government’s e-Savjetovanja website in July 2017 show that 80% of participants in the consultation were against the Istanbul Convention, so its ratification by the parliament would be contrary to the will of the majority of Croatian citizens, it was said at the news conference.
Pavlović said the promotion of gender ideology had a fatal impact on balanced and integral development of children and young people. She said that, as parents and citizens, members of the initiative “Truth About the Istanbul Convention” were against the integration of the concept of gender in the education system and media, which, she said, the convention called for.
Ivan Mihanović of the Vigilare association said that Croatia would have to set aside more than a billion kuna of budget money annually for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. If Croatia has that money, it can finance shelters for women without the Istanbul Convention and do what is necessary for their protection, spending the rest of the money to promote population growth policies rather than finance gender-feminist associations, said Mihanović.
Member of Parliament Hrvoje Zekanović of HRAST addressed reporters after the news conference, expressing support for the initiative and its letter to President Grabar-Kitarović.
Earlier in the day, the Protestant Reformed Christian Church in Croatia said it considered the ratification of the Istanbul Convention unnecessary and harmful if it was not preceded by a serious discussion between all social stakeholders on the convention, which, it said, imposed gender ideology on Croatian society.