A Croatia gay couple, who want to become foster parents, have a message for haters: “We are a country full of hypocrisy,” they point out in yesterday’s interview with RTL Direkt. Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić, who are in a life partnership, applied to become foster parents in 2017. After passing extensive background checks, screening tests and obtaining their foster care certification, their application was rejected by the Social Welfare Center in Zagreb.
In December 2019, the Croatian Administrative Court handed down a decision which ordered the center to consider the couple’s foster parent application based on its merit only. However, the center refused to comply with the court’s decision and rejected their application again. Tatjana Brozić Perić, director of the Zagreb Social Welfare Center, now faces charges for refusing to implement the Administrative Court decision. Her conduct has also been condemned by members of the Croatian parliament.
Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić applied to the Social Welfare Center to become foster parents three years ago. After rejecting their application, the center explained that the couple cannot foster children because the law does not allow them to do so as life partners. Last December, the Administrative Court handed down a historic verdict which stated that life partners could be foster parents. However, their request was rejected again by the Social Welfare Center in January.
Croatia Law: Gay Couple Could Be Foster Parents, But Not as Life Partners
Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić, life partners who hope to become the first Croatian gay foster parents, were guests of Mojmira Pastorčić/RTL Direkt on January 28, 2020. The craziest thing of all is that if they were single instead of life partners, they could have easily fostered a child.
“That is the biggest paradox. If I had applied alone, I would not be questioned and would be welcomed at the center, I am at an ideal age, live in an urban environment, am highly educated and financially comfortable. In other words, I am in an ideal category for foster care applicants,” Ivo noted.
Ivo Šegota | RTL Direkt
At Christmas they were given a “gift” by the Administrative Court, but the couple began celebrating too soon.
Director Zagreb Social Welfare Center Won’t Implement Court Decision
A few days ago, a decision was made by the Social Welfare Center, in which the director, Brozić Perić, stated that she would refuse to acknowledge the court decision because she did not want to implement it. Both Mladen and Ivo will submit a complaint to the Ministry of Demography, and they are confident that it won’t repeat the center’s absurd behavior and will hand down a valid legal decision.
“We have been waiting for a long time and hope that as soon as we file our complaint, the Ministry (of Demography) will react promptly in accordance with the laws and the decision of the Administrative Court,” Ivo says.
They would be the first gay couple to foster a child, but there are already several same-sex couples who have children in Croatia.
Croatia Same Sex Couples with Children Doing Well
“We don’t have official statistics, but we hang out with a lot of these families. Some have children who are already grown up, but recently we’ve had a little ‘baby boom’. Such families have had much more positive experiences than one might expect. There are families from every part of Croatia, and everything is working out very well for them. Professionals, who deal with these children in kindergartens and schools, and neighbors, generally view everyone as human beings first. Especially when it comes to a child, few are willing to act to the detriment of a child,” Mladen said.
Croatia Public Reactions Overwhelmingly Positive
By all accounts, they have taken on a difficult role. “When this all began, it was not our intention to make public appearances, but immediately we realized that the saying ‘When, if not now and who, if not me’ could easily apply to us as well. The narrative in Croatia will not go forward unless we make public appearances and fight for our rights because our institutions have been silent or have rejected us,” Ivo revealed.
The reactions they receive are mostly positive, which is surprising. People approach them throughout the day, and they also have the support of family, employers and even strangers. The pair are convinced that it is time for same-sex couples in Croatia to be allowed to adopt children.
Croatia In Company with Moldova Regarding Same Sex Foster Parenting
“Croatia is currently in company with Belarus and Moldova on this issue. The question is whether we want to be in company with them or with Spain, Austria, Germany, Great Britain. We are currently heading the EU Presidency and are proud that we are the heart of Europe. So why don’t we assume a European stance regarding this issue as well? I am somewhat convinced that we are ready. There has been a huge shift toward positive comments in just one year, which is why we are glad that we have decided to make our efforts public,” said Mladen.
Mladen Kožić | RTL Direkt
Some are saying that it is not necessary to experiment, but Ivo has a counterproposal for them.
Over 1000 Children in Croatian Orphanages: Shortage of Foster Parents
“We are talking about a thousand or more children who are spending their childhood in orphanages. Let’s see our opponents foster two or three children, which is as many children as we would like to foster, and we could solve all our problems in Croatia. There would not be any children left for us to foster, and everyone would be happy, except for the two of us, perhaps. “We are a country full of hypocrisy, and we don’t see those who voice the loudest opposition coming down to the (Social Welfare) Center (to become foster parents). And we have a chronic shortage of foster parents in Croatia,” Ivo concluded.
Mojmira Pastorčić with Mladen Kožić and Ivo Šegota | RTL Direkt
Interview with Mladen Kožić | HRT
A history of the couple’s efforts to become foster parents and information on the LGBT rights movement in Croatia can be found here.