The newest member of the European Union is set to hold a referendum on whether to ban any possibility of equal marriage.

On 1 December, a poll will be held, asking: ‘Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?’

If, as expected, a majority yes vote is received, the constitution will be amended to ban equal marriage. But even if they do vote no, equal marriage is not inevitable.

The vote was called after some 700,000 people signed a petition, obliging the parliament to debate the issue. 104 MPs in the 151-seat assembly backed a referendum, compared with just 13 who voted against.

Human rights groups, meanwhile, have announced an appeal against the referendum. Prominent gay rights activist Sanja Juras said: ‘This is undoubtedly a human rights issue and as such it cannot be put to a referendum.’

The dispute over gay rights has divided Croatia. The country has taken steps to improve gay rights as a condition of entering the EU, but issues such as same-sex marriage remain highly sensitive in the staunchly Catholic nation.