If you’re looking for a rooting interest in Sunday’s World Cup final between France and Croatia based on that nation’s support for LGBT rights, then France is the choice.
Same-sex marriage is legal in France but banned in Croatia under a constitutional amendment. However, civil unions are allowed in Croatia, granting many of the same rights as marriage.
Public opinion polls also show more support for the rights of LGBT people in France than in Croatia. In France, two-thirds support same-sex marriage, for example, while in Croatia roughly the same percentages are opposed.
Both countries allow people to change their gender but require surgery, and both allow LGBT people to serve openly in the military. Same-sex couples can adopt in France but not in Croatia.
France has a much longer democratic tradition than Croatia, which was part of communist Yugoslavia for 50 years and has been independent only since 1991. Paris is one of the most-LGBT friendly cities in the world and will be hosting the Gay Games next month. Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, has a thriving gay scene and the country is popular with tourists of all orientations because of its beauty, but attitudes outside of cities are not as accepting.
I checked the men of Zagreb on the gays apps Scruff and Grindr and found a lot of profiles with headless torsos, so it’s just like Scruff and Grindr in every other city on Earth.
Rooting for either team Sunday based on LGBT issues isn’t a slam dunk since Croatia is not openly hostile and France is not totally accepting. This isn’t a Western country facing one where same-sex relationships are outlawed and gays harassed.
In this matchup, the game’s the thing, so cheer for whoever grabs your fancy. I lean Croatia, simply because they’ve never won it all while France has one title, but am simply hoping for an exciting game.