Gay Croatia News & Reports 1998-2009

0 Croatia: Ex-soldier persecuted because of homosexuality 11/98

1 Croatian homosexuals step out from shadow to demand equal civil rights 7/02

2 Croatian gays join first ‘pride’ march 6/02

3 Croatian homosexuals want laws to protect their rights 1/03

4 Croatia provides partnership rights to gay couples 7/03

5 Croatia legislation recognises gay couples 8/03

6 How we changed the laws – campaigning for equality 6/04

7 Croatia: Gay Pride-III is OK in Zagreb 6/04

8 Discrimination against Homosexuality in Croatian Schools 9/04

9 After two weekend attacks, Zagreb’s homosexuals form a self defence 9/04

10 The house of Iskorak President Dorino Manzin attacked 10/04

11 Commentary about Gay Croatia today 12/04

12 In Croatia, a New Riviera Beckons 7/05 (non-gay travel story)

13 Croatian Gays No Longer want to be in the Closet 10/05

14 Eastern European Pride in Zagreb–June 22–25, 2006

15 Gay week surprises Croatian tourists 8/06

16 Counselling Office for Lesbians and Bisexual Women Opens 1/07

17 Violence at Croatian Gay Pride march 7/07

18 IGLHRC and ILGA-Europe Joint Letter to the Croatian Officials 7/07

19 Croat charged with hate crime for attempting to attack gay parade 10/07

20 Lesbian group criticise police in Croatia 3/08

21 Catholic Church accused of delaying discrimination bill in Croatia 6/08

22 Croatian Conference September 2009 2/09

23 Zagreb Pride 2009 will take place from June 10 to 13 June 6/09

24 Gay pride around the world 6/09

25 Gay pride activists march in Rome, Warsaw, Zagreb 6/09

26 European Social Rights Body Condemns Homophobic School Text Books 8/09

27 Croatia’s Adriatic Coast 9/09

7 November 1998 – The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Volume VII, Number 4, pt 2, 1998

CROATIA: Ex-soldier persecuted because of homosexuality

In July, Aldin Petric, a recruit in the Croatian army, was dismissed from the armed forces because of his homosexuality. He pressed a lawsuit against the policies of the armed forces, claiming damages for discrimination and abuse. Now, in a reversal, the Croatian Ministry of Defense has called him to complete the remainder of his military service. However, Petric fears that, once returned to the hands of the military, he will face life-threatening reprisals, not only for his homosexuality but for his attempt to call the armed forces to legal account.

Petric answered his draft summons in July 1998, reporting to the army barracks at Pula. Shortly after arriving, he informed his superior officer privately that he was gay. Despite the officer’s promises to keep this information confidential, it quickly spread through the barracks. Petric was subjected to repeated physical abuse and attacks, as well as to isolation, by the other recruits. Although these attacks took place in the presence of officers, the latter reportedly refused to intervene. Instead, Petric himself was disciplined and removed from various details; finally he was forbidden to leave the barracks, "to avoid problems which might arise from meetings with other soldiers." Petric repeatedly requested a transfer to another barracks, but the commanding officer refused.

On July 22, Petric was summarily dismissed from the armed forces. Medical papers handed him on this occasion cited code F65.9 from the internationally accepted ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders, a diagnostic manual published in 1992 by the World Health Organization. This code stands for "Disturbance of Sexual Preference, Unspecified," and offers a rubric for cases where the presiding psychologist suspects a sexual disorder but cannot identify symptoms or offer a diagnosis. Both the ICD-10 and the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of the World Psychiatric Association have eliminated homosexuality from their rosters of psychological disorders. However, vague catch-all classifications such as the above still allow doctors wide powers to medicalize and stigmatize sexual behaviors on the basis of prejudice or (as appears to have occurred in this case) political exigency.

Petric’s parents discovered his homosexuality as a result of the army’s order, and he was expelled from his home
. Petric sued the Ministry of Defense for damages, citing discriminatory policies, official impunity for the abuse he suffered, and resulting psychological trauma. He was supported in his lawsuit by Croatian human-rights organizations, including the Croatian Helsinki Committee.

However, in October, the Ministry of Defense reversed the finding of Petric’s inability to serve, and summoned him to complete his military service.

Such a summons represents neither redress nor compensation for the abuse Petric has already suffered. Rather, Petric fears, the summons is a form of intimidation: if honored it will place him in a situation where further and worse abuse may follow, with equal impunity. His lawsuit, along with his homosexuality, has already been widely reported in the Croatian media. Petric fears this publicity will lead to punishment and reprisals during his time in the military, threatening not only his physical well-being but possibly his life.

Petric asks for letters of protest to the Croatian Minister of Defence. These letters should ask the Minister to suspend all action pending resolution of Petric’s lawsuit and the issues it involves. They should call attention to the fact that Petric has already suffered abuse at the hands of both recruits and officers; his widely known homosexuality, and the fact of his having challenged the armed forces publicly, place him at renewed physical risk should he resume military service. The Minister should also be asked to publicly ensure Petric’s safety, whether within or without the armed forces.

July 18, 2002 – Agence France-Presse

Croatian homosexuals step out from shadow to demand equal civil rights

Zagreb – From the anonymity of night clubs, dark parks and lonely Adriatic beaches Croatia’s homosexuals are starting to "come out" and demand equal civil rights in a traditionally patriarchal, predominantly Catholic society. "We will not achieve anything if we continue claiming that our society is not mature enough for change,"

Daniel Surjan, of the gay association Iskorak (Step Forward), founded early this year, told AFP. "Our slogans tells the best about us: Who, if not ourselves. Where, if not here. And When, if not now," added the 21-year-old tailor, who sports a David Beckham hairstyle.

The position of the homosexual community, discussion of which was practically inconceivable until recently, is now on the agenda as the Balkan country gradually returns to democracy following the bloody 1990s war for independence from the former Yugoslavia and almost a decade of authoritarian rule. Croatia’s homosexual community, and especially the younger generation, is aiming to show through an active fight for its rights that one should not be ashamed or discriminated against for being gay.

Croatia’s two homosexual groups last month demanded that the Zagreb government give same-sex couples the right to get married by amending the country’s family law to define matrimony as a "union of two persons" instead as a "union of a man and a woman." Iskorak and their lesbian counterpart Kontra (Against), estimate that homosexuals make about ten percent of Croatia’s population of 4.44 million, and base their demands on provisions in the country’s constitution granting equal rights to all persons and forbidding any discrimination.

However, in the country where according to a 2001 census 88 percent of the population are Catholics, the ongoing discussion on the issue has provoked vivid reactions from the Catholic church, which describes homosexuality as a "serious perversion." "It is completely incompatible with the Catholic moral to create a union based on such an inclination and demand that it be socially recognized as a marriage," the Glas Koncila weekly, the mouthpiece of the Catholic church here, said in a recent commentary.

Promoting homosexuality as a "socially desirable behaviour is directly affecting the family," at a moment Croatia is facing a "serious demographic crisis," Glas Koncila warned. Croatia’s first ever Gay Pride parade held in the capital Zagreb in late June, also pointed to a certain softening within society, in which a macho image still prevails. But, the parade, that gathered amid tight security some 200 people, rather supporters than homosexuals themselves, also showed that opposition to homosexuality is still strong here as at least 15 persons supporting the event were beaten up after it.

An opinion poll published by the Vecernji List daily showed that although 57.6 percent of those surveyed said that homosexuals were "normal people with different sexual orientation" 66.2 percent opposed legalizing of gay marriages. Daniel does not see Croatian society as a homophobic one, however. "There is a very loud anti-gay minority," he said, adding he expected more people to join both Iskorak, who has some 70 members, and the next parade.

Daniel, whose parents were the last to learn about his homosexuality, was also trying to be ‘out’ until he joined Iskorak. "Although my mom reacted well it is always hard for parents," Daniel admitted. Daniel’s colleagues in Iskorak, as well members of Kontra, are young people, mostly in their early 20s.

"There is a new generation that grew up linked through the Internet with the global gay scene," Aleksandar Stulhofer, a sociologist at Zagreb university, told AFP, explaining the boost given to the homosexual movement in Croatia. "They believe that as homosexuals they have full civil rights and that personal freedom also means a freedom to express one’s sexual particularity," Stulhofer said.

Stulhofer stressed the importance of the public presence of the gay movement in the country where some would say it has more burning economic and social issues to deal with. "Since homosexuality is being linked to such fierce resistance ranging from disgust to purely ideological opposition, that is why it is a good test for the tolerance of a society," he said.

29 June 2002 – BBC News

Croatian gays join first ‘pride’ march

Croatia’s first gay pride parade has taken place amid heavy security in the capital, Zagreb. Reports say the marchers, numbering about 200, were subjected to jeering and heckling from some bystanders and that, despite the police presence, a tear gas cannister was thrown at them.

The country’s Interior Minister, Sime Lucin, and several members of parliament and human rights officials joined the march. Correspondents say prejudice against homosexuality is strong in Croatia, but in recent years a few gay and lesbian bars have opened across the country.

The group which organised the march, Iskorak (Step Forward), is responsible for launching a campaign to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples. ‘Fight for your rights’ The participants marched around the main square of the city before making speeches in a nearby park. Some passers-by applauded, while others shouted abuse.

"Love each other and fight for your rights," Interior Minister Sime Lucin told the marchers. "We wish to show how the Croatian society is mature and democratic and also show the positive side of sexual minorities," said Iskorak spokesman Dorino Manzin. "We didn’t want to dance naked or flash our bare bottoms or anything like that," he added. "We just wanted to be heard and accepted."

No prominent Croatian politician, sportsman or pop star has ever admitted to being gay. But the head of the lesbian association Kontra, Sanja Juras, said the march would provide an opportunity for gays and lesbians in the conservative, Catholic country to "come out".

January 21, 2003 – Agence France-Press

Croatian homosexuals want laws to protect their rights

Zagreb – Croatian gay and lesbian groups on Tuesday called for legislation that would protect their rights, warning of discrimination against homosexuals in this traditionally patriarchal and Roman Catholic Balkans country. "Croatia has not taken (legal) measures aimed at the fight against homophobia yet," the lesbian association Kontra (Opposite) and its gay counterpart Iskorak (Step Forward) said in a report on the rights of homosexuals in Croatia in 2002.

The groups said laws "punishing discrimination based on sexual orientation" were conspicuously absent from the books. "It is necessary to forbid any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation through the constitution and laws," they said stressing the need that such laws be implemented "in a consistent and transparent manner." Although describing the situation regarding homosexual rights in Croatia as "unenviable," the groups also pointed to some improvements that took place last year.

In June, Croatia’s first Gay Pride parade was held in the capital of Zagreb while draft laws to suppress discrimination based on sexual orientation at work and legalize same-sex marriages are being prepared. Iskorak and Kontra estimate that 10 percent of the country’s population of 4.4 millions is homosexual. Zagreb hopes to become a fully-fledged member of the European Union by 2007 or 2008. Same-sex marriages, or similar legal partnerships have been allowed for a couple of years in a number of EU countries. In 2000, the Dutch government passed legislation giving gay marriages complete parity of rights with heterosexual ones. Gay couples in Sweden have won the right to adopt children as of February 1.

July 16, 2003 – (glbt)

Croatia provides partnership rights to gay couples

Croatia will extend the same rights to gay couples living together as to unmarried heterosexual couples, including state recognition of shared assets and joint health coverage, a parliamentary source told Agence France Presse on Tuesday.

The law, passed by parliament late Monday, only applies to gay and lesbian couples living together for at least three years. "It is an important step forward in terms of human rights for Croatian society," Sanja Juras, an official with the lesbian rights group Kontra (Opposite), told AFP. Activists from Kontra and the gay rights group Iskorak (Step Forward) had taken the government to task back in January for taking no steps to protect gays from discrimination in this conservative, predominantly Catholic country.

In recognizing gay partnerships, Croatia put itself on similar footing with countries of the European Union, which it aspires to join, perhaps by as early as 2007. Same-sex marriages and partnerships are legal in a number of EU states, and in 2000 the Netherlands gave gay marriages complete parity of rights with heterosexual ones. Britain is planning to put forth legislation this year to give full legal equality to "civil partnerships" for gays and lesbians. Kontra and Iskorak estimate that between 6 and 12 percent of Croatia’s 4.5 million people are gay or lesbian.

8 August 2003 – U.K.

Croatia legislation recognises gay couples

New legislation from Croatia will provide gay partners the same legal rights as their unmarried straight counterparts, in a move that has been hailed as he first step to full recognition in the country. The legislation will give same sex partners of at least 3 years the same rights as unmarried cohabiting opposite sex partners, including the right to legal regulation of property and mutual responsibility for financial support.

The move is particularly important in light of the recent Vatican City statement, which called for all gay rights to be revoked and prevented from coming into law, as Croatia is a mostly Roman Catholic country. Additionally, it reflects a general liberal attitude in Eastern Europe’s former communist block. In 1996, the Hungarian Constitutional Court made a similar move, extending the rights of unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex partners to same-sex partners.

June 19, 2004 – Gay Croatia Tourist Info

How we changed the laws – campaigning for equality

by Gordan Bosanac
In this essay I will use the case study on two Croatian LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual] NGOs, Iskorak and Kontra, who were working together on the introduction of LGBT rights inside the Croatian legislation.

Although the NGOs also succeeded to implant antidiscrimination articles inside three other acts [Penal code, Labour Act, Gender Equality Act], I have focused my research on the adoption of the Law on same sex civil unions which is the first case of legal recognition of same sex couples in the former Yugoslavia countries. I will argue for how important the principle of visibility [advocating LGBT rights by openly gay persons], the principle of flexibility [waiting for the Government to propose bill changes and then get involved in lobbying for LGBT rights] and close co-operation with the governmental bodies was for the success of the campaign.

I am also describing how the campaign experienced the shift from the agenda-setting phase [putting the discourse on LGBT rights into the political and media discourse], to the social and political recognition phase [recognition of NGOs demands by broader public and political decision making bodies].

Finally, I will show how the influence of international political bodies [European Commission, OSCE] on the Government decision-making-process and campaigning-process, was minor.

Attitudes towards the LGBT population in Croatia

It is a difficult task to advocate for LGBT rights as human rights in a society which has recently experienced the change from a totalitarian to a democratic regime , and was recently involved in a military conflict . Legacy of nationalism, fundamentalism in religion believes, militarism and machoism plays an important role inside the Croatian society. Such a legacy strongly contributes to the process of heteronormativity of the Croatian society, which assumes heterosexual behaviour as the one and only correct sexual behaviour. Croatian Peasant Party is against the tendency of legalisation of unnatural behaviour of the small number of Croatian citizens … human sexuality may be naturally achieved only through relations with the opposite sex – claimed parliament member [MP] Ljubica Lalic during the parliament discussion on the Law on same sex civil union.

Ljubica Lalic was not alone in her attitudes. The heterosexual family is the basis of the society … Same sex unions may ask only for a minimum of tolerance – stated Ivic Pasalic, president of the right wing parliament party Croatian Block and MP, in his interview to the Croatian weekly magazine Fokus . Another MP from the Croatian Christian Democratic Party, Anto Kovacevic, claimed: We should build a healing centre on Goli otok [Naked island – the name of the island in the Adriatic sea which, during the communist period, was a cruel prison for political prisoners] to heal those unhappy people.

It was a big challenge for the two Croatian non-governmental organisations Iskorak [Coming Out] – Group for protection and promotion of different sexual orientation and Lesbian group Kontra to enter the Croatian public and political space and start to advocate LGBT rights and especially the recognition of same sex unions.

Principle of visibility
Year 2002 was the turning point for the LGBT movement in Croatia. Before 2002 the LGBT population in Croatia was described as absorbed by silence . Although the first lesbian non-governmental organisation [NGO] in Croatia LORI was officially established in October 2000 , there were no visible gay or lesbian persons ready to openly advocate for the LGBT rights. LORI has been working on small projects, primary dealing with the socialisation of lesbian community in the town of Rijeka. Lesbian group Kontra was established in Zagreb, the capitol of Croatia, in summer 1997 [officially registered in summer 2002]. Until year 2002, Kontra was also working without publicly open persons and initiatives. The third LGBT NGO Iskorak was established on January 2002 , and from the beginning started to work public orientated. Once gays and lesbians became visible, it was possible to start to penetrate inside the Croatian social and political public discourse with the politics of LGBT rights.

One of the key events for the establishment and the official registration of LGBT NGOs in Croatia after year 2000 must be connected with the change in Croatian Government on 3 January 2000. The political party Hrvatska demokratska zajednica [Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ], ruled by the former Croatian president Franjo Tudman who was often criticised by the international community and human rights NGOs for the violations of human rights had been on the power in Croatia from 1991 to 2000. After Tudman’s death in December 1999, a coalition of six parties [led by social-democrats and social-liberals] overtook power. Gays and lesbians felt that with the change of Government, the democratisation process had generally started inside the society. Although there were many human rights organisations established during Tudman’s regime 1991-2000, no one had been focused on LGBT rights. Their priority was the protection of Serbian minority citizens, conscientious objectors and woman rights. LGBT rights had been waiting for LGBT people to start to advocate them.

Principle of flexibility
Right from the beginning, it was clear for the activists of Iskorak and Kontra that they had to work together. The capacity of every organisation was too small to start advocating alone. This is why they together established the Team for Legal Changes to work on the improvement of Croatian legislation which were and is of interest for LGBT people.

Eric Heinz in his book Sexual Orientation: A Human Right recognises three phases in the changes of the State attitudes towards the LGBT rights; 1. decriminalisation [of homosexuality], 2. general non-discrimination [introduction of legal provisions forbidding the public discrimination of LGBT people] and 3. affirmative assimilation [taking active steps to prevent violence and intolerance] . Iskorak and Kontra have been following this dynamics, with the additional goal: to decrease prejudices towards the LGBT population, which is deeply grounded inside the Croatian society. Since homosexuality was decriminalised in Croatia already in 1977 , the first task was to develop LGBT policy towards the improvement of the legal status of LGBT population in Croatia. Croatian legislation wasn’t recognising sexual orientation by any Act.

In April 2002, the Croatian Government announced that it was preparing changes of the Family law. Activists used this opportunity and became involved in the public discussions on the bill proposal. It is important here to emphasise that activists didn’t come up with the fixed agenda of different acts changes, but they were rather following the dynamics of Governmental activities in changing the laws. When the Government proposed changes in the law to the Parliament, activists used the opportunity to get involved in public discussions.

This is what I call the principle of flexibility. Since the Croatian Government’s priority goal is to enter the European Union [EU], it was to expect that majority of laws important for LGBT people would be changed [of course, not because of LGBT rights, but because of general requirements for legislation changes of EU described inside the acquis communautaire document]. During the period of May 2002 – July 2003, Government proposed changes in many bills, and activists were lobbying for changes in the Family law, Penal code, Labour Act, Gender Equality Act, Asylum Act and Act on Sport, always with the same request: to incorporate an article which would forbid discrimination based on the ground of sexual orientation inside the bill.

Agenda setting
At the beginning of the campaign, the primary goal of LGBT activists was to decrease the prejudices towards the LGBT population in Croatia . Legislation changes had been perceived only as an opportunity for agenda setting – placing the discourse on LGBT lifestyle and rights inside public [political, media] discourse in Croatia. Activists estimated that for the beginning it was important and enough to develop different discourses on homosexuality inside the society. No one was expecting that the legislation demands would be taken seriously from the governmental bodies .

Agenda setting were planned to be established by two events:
1. proposing the changes inside the Family law
2. organising the first Croatian Gay Pride

Political and social recognition
On 22 May 2003 activists publicly presented the document Changes and amendments on proposal of the Family Act proposed by Ministry of labour and social welfare and Ministry of justice .

The proposal was sent to all parliament parties, to the Croatian Government, Government Office for Human Rights, Ministry of labour and social welfare [MLSW], Ministry of justice, Ministry of foreign affairs, Ministry for European integration, president of Croatia, parliament Committee for human rights, parliament Committee for family, youth and sport, parliament Committee for gender equality, representative of European Commission in Zagreb, representative of the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Zagreb and to media . It is clear that the activists recognised human right bodies and international institutions as potential supporters. These bodies were not directly responsible for the implementation of the Family law changes but could produce the pressure on decision makers.

Feedback on the demands was surprising. The Minister of labour and social welfare, Davorko Vidovic invited the activists to a meeting just after they presented the proposal and supported their demands. That was the big turning point in the campaign, since it became clear that the way for legislation changes now was opened. Media coverage was also big. All of the major Croatian newspapers published an article on activist’s demands. The discourse was opened.

The second step for increasing the discourse on LGBT rights was taken by organising the first Croatian Gay Pride. The first Gay Pride in Zagreb took place on 29 June 2002 [just one month after the public proposal for same sex partnership]. Around 200 persons participated in a march, protected by around 600 special police forces. Along with the march participants were the Croatian Minister of home affairs Sime Lucin and five parliament members . During the march, skinheads and opposers were spiting on the protesters, throwing solid objects and at end a tear gas container. After the march 27 people were beaten on the streets of Zagreb by skinheads . The pictures from the Pride march went around the world .

Pictures from the first Croatian Gay Pride, held on 29 June 2002 in Zagreb.

Gay Pride and the violence during the march put a lot of public sympathies on the Croatian LGBT community. Homosexuals stronger than tear gas and prejudices – reported the Croatian daily newspaper Novi list .

After the Gay pride, Iskorak and Kontra started to work more closely with MLSW. Together they proposed the Law on Family, Marriage and Common-law marriage to the parliament. They incorporated same sex couples rights inside the old Family law and, due to the critics that LGBT right may not be a part of Family law, changed the name of the law. Proposal passed the first reading in the Parliament. The majority of remarks from the MP’s were, as it was expected, that the LGBT rights should be recognised inside a separate law, but not inside the Family law. This was accepted by activists and MLSW and in the second reading they proposed Law on same sex civil union, which was accepted by the Croatian parliament on 14 July 2003 .

It is interesting to estimate why MLSF [as a representative of the Government] supported the initial proposal of Iskorak and Kontra. One of the reasons is that Minister Vidovic is a member of Social-democratic party [SDP] which is traditionally supportive towards LGBT minorities: as social-democrats we are primary responsible towards the citizens and State, and in the centre of our responsibility is the human being with all of his/her characteristics – declared Vidovic in an interview for the main Croatian gay web portal .

Second reason is that the new Government wanted to keep on going with the image of human rights respecters; […] we wanted to make step forward in the human rights protection and in combating discrimination by giving the equal opportunities and freedom to be different to the homosexual part of the Croatian population – he continued. Next reason is a governmental tendency to adjust Croatian legislation with legislation practices and norms from the majority of European States .

The other factor may be connected with the fact that the SDP is the reformed communist party from the period of Yugoslavia. Even though the party has been reformed it still has a perception inside a part of the Croatian society as an old, evil party. Supporting LGBT rights, SDP is showing its own reformed character.

The partnership between the NGOs and MLSW was extremely important for the success of the campaign.
This partnership is not usual in advocating human rights policy. Usually, the Government is perceived as an opponent of human rights. In this case the Government was a collaborator. The main opponents were the conservative parties and the Catholic Church . After the January 2000 election, the polarisation inside Croatian political life was not strongly directed between the civil society and the Government, but between the pro-European and anti-European parts of society. Here by the meaning anti-European you can think, for example, on the individual who is against the collaboration of Croatian Government with the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, which is a constant burning political issue in Croatia.

LGBT rights are perceived as pro-European rights, and this is why Government finds an interest to support them. However, the main opponent to the same-sex couple’s legalisation was the Croatian Peasant Party [CPP] which was on the power in coalition with SDP. When the MLSW proposed the changes inside the Family law to the Government it became highly polarised on the issue of the recognition of same sex couples. Homosexuals Divided the Government – reported Vecernji list from the first Government discussion on changes of the Family law. CPP, as well as other conservative political parties, took rigid positions just to define their parties between the conservative or liberal side. The fragile consensus was achieved by the exclusion of LGBT rights from the Family law, and by proposing the separate Law on same sex civil unions.

The influence of the international political pressure was minor. Minister Vidovic emphasised: There wasn’t any pressure from EU institutions concerning the LGBT rights in Croatia. Moreover, if you look at the Delegation of European Commission to the Republic Croatia [DECRC] Stabilisation and association report on Croatia for year 2002, or all of the OSCE Status reports in the period of 1998 – 2003, you will not find any comments about the status of sexual minorities rights. Both reports are primarily talking about national minorities and Roma rights in the section on human rights. The presence of DECRC in the campaign was indirectly visible through the financial support of another public awareness campaign runed by the NGO Lesbian organisation LORI, called Ljubav je ljubav [Love is love] .

It is hard to imagine that EU institutions would have criticised Croatia in case of the Law on same sex civil union wasn’t adopted, particularly because the main minority problem were connected with national minorities in Croatia. Another reason is that sexual minorities rights are still not fully recognised inside the international human rights law. The only exception is the decisions of the European Court on Human Rights, who are very supportive towards the LGBT rights . The EU Parliament has published several resolutions on LGBT rights , but they are primary orientated on EU member countries. Because of the lack of the international human rights norms on LGBT rights, there was no international pressure. Here we cannot speak, for example, on the model of norms socialisation processes, represented by Risse and Sikkink .

The only international pressure came from the International Lesbian and Gay Association [ILGA] who petitioned the Government and the Parliament just before the Parliament session on the proposed law , demanding the acceptance of the proposed bill.

The campaign for same-sex partnership in Croatia is one of the examples of a successful policy change influenced by NGOs. The key point in the campaigning was the visibility and exposure of LGBT people inside the Croatian society. It is almost impossible to imagine that any political party would raise the question of discrimination of LGBT people in Croatia by its own hands. The pressure and influence of EU institutions on the Government about the LGBT rights was minor. Internal political power relations, and self defining of the political parties on the scale conservative vs. liberal, played important role in the decision making process. Close co-operation of NGOs with the MLSW allowed flexibility and dynamical changes in political decisions important for the campaign.

However, even though the LGBT rights now are recognised inside the Croatian legislation, there are no enough brave LGBT persons to use them. There is still no case brought by a LGBT person to the Croatian courts. The legislation has overtaken the reality. It is more than obvious that the next campaign must be focused on the empowerment of LGBT persons.

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21 June 2004 – One World (UK)

Croatia: Gay is OK in Zagreb

Between 200 and 300 participants of the “Zagreb Pride” gay parade gathered last Saturday on Zrinjevac and proceeded, with strong police protection, through the streets of downtown Zagreb.

Yelling “Gay is OK” and “Love is Love” slogans, the participants in the parade promoted the rights of homosexual, bisexual and trans-sexual persons.

The parade lasted about half an hour, after which the participants talked against homophobia and intolerance of the catholic church and other denominations in Croatia. They stood for the right for homosexual and lesbian marriages and the right to adopt children for partners in such marriages. The establishment of advisory centres was announced, to work on the prevention of AIDS and the participants promoted the use of condoms as the best way of protection.

At the head of the third “Zagreb Pride”, the participants carried the “Proud Again” banner, together with a six-meter long rainbow flag, as well as other banners with messages such as: I love Carla Del Ponte; Get out of the closet; Long Live diversity; I am lesbia;, I am a proud homosexual; Gays and Lesbians wish you good morning, etc. The citizens watched the procession watch by peacefully, although there were people who protested the fact that trams did not drive.

For security reasons, the police placed a metal barrier around Zrinjevac and on the Preradovic Square, and secured the parade itself during the procession through the streets of Zagreb.

The spokesperson of the Zagreb Police Dept. Gordana Vulama, said to the press that “Zagreb Pride” passed in perfect order, without any need for police intervention. She added that only one instance of “verbal protest” was noted on the Jelacic Square.
Vulama estimates that some 200 to 300 participants joined the Parade, and added that on Zrinjevac, the Police Dept sent at least as many policemen to secure the parade.

The Head of the City of Zagreb Cultural Office, Vladimir Stojsavljevic, came to the start of the parade and said to the press that he was there as private citizen and not as a representative of the City Council and that the City Council secured 35,000 Kuna to the organization of “Zagreb Pride”. No politicians were seen at the parade.

September 23, 2004 – OneWorld International, London

Discrimination against Homosexuality in Croatian Schools.
Education Minister Primorac didn’t act on Ombudsperson’s demand.

by Andrija Vranic
Last Friday, the deadline expired for Nenad Primorac, Minister of Education, to provide information on the request sent to his office by the Gender Equality Ombudsperson Gordana Lukac-Koritnik on August 20. The request refers to the complaint by Iskorak and Kontra associations about the discrimination of homosexuals in the religious education curriculum in elementary schools.

Namely, in the programmes for eighth-grade, one of the lessons carries the title: "Discussion on the Complete Meaning and Relationship Between "love" and "sex" and Judgment on the Wrong Forms of Sexuality (Homosexuality, prostitution, incest, trans-sexuality)".

The Ombudsman located two disputable elements in the Religious Education Programme. The first one is the way homosexuality is defined as a wrong form of sexuality, and the second is the equation of homosexuality and incest, having in mind that the latter is considered a criminal offense in the Croatian Criminal Law.

The Ombudsperson compiled her remarks into a recommendation to revise the elementary school religious education programme, together with a warning that the programme violates several legal provisions on prohibition of discrimination.

The Recommendations and the Warning are, legally, the strongest formulations available to the Ombudsman. According to Nevio Setic, State Secretary for Primary Education, the Ministry will support only a minimal changes in the programme, to change the word "wrong" with "sinful", position supported by the spokesperson of the Croatian Epyscopal Conference, Vjekoslav Huzjak.

Iskorak and Kontra associations learned that the Office of the Ombudsman is not satisfied with the solution proposed by the Minsitry of Education, and will take additional steps to ensure that Ms. Lukac-Koritnik’s demands are complied with. If the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports fails to act on the complaint for discrimination, the Gender Equality Ombudsperson will consider the possibility to bring criminal charges against Minister Primorac.

September 23, 2004

After two weekend attacks, Zagreb’s homosexuals form a self defence

After two weekend attacks on homosexuals in downtown Zagreb, Iskorak was informed about the formation of "Pink Panthers", a group which has long existed internationally and which protects homosexuals from various attacks, as well as retaliates for past attacks. The president of Iskorak, Dorino Manzin, said that there are a large number of interested individuals who are willing to join the group and patrol the streets in areas where most attacks took place. They are ready to respond with force.

Security Escorts
The people who are forming this group would behave as does the opposite side, and they would also move in larger groups, probably around ten people. They would also escort people home, who are returning from somewhere late at night, as well as patrol city streets as needed – said Manzin. He added that it was to be expected that homosexuals would take things into their own hands because some rightfully suspect that the police willingly downplays cases of violence against homosexuals, and equates them to simple street violence. Furthermore, he suggested that interested individuals contact Iskorak directly, in order to eventually organise a communication system with the police to inform them of attacks on homosexuals.

Self-defence Courses
" I do not want this to be regarded as some call to formation of a paramilitary unit, as Pink Panthers have been, in many countries, a very useful and effective association. People had enough and they started to organise themselves since it was evident that the system could not protect them" said Manzin, and added that among the interested are those who have not themselves been the victims of these attacks, but are victims’ partners and friends. He also mentioned that those interested in self-defence courses could contact Iskorak toll free at 0800-444-004.

Iskorak has received eight threats of attacks since last spring, said Marko Jurcic, Iskorak’s press secretary.
Of the eight received threats, only three were reported to the police. There were not treated as attacks based on sexual orientation and are still held at State Attorney’s office, said Jurcic.

One young man was attacked twice, and both times he reported the attacks to the police, but he informed us that he does not expect that his case would be solved. The third case reported to the police finished ugly – since the attacked person was underage and the police contacted his parents to come pick him up from the police station where he was with his boyfriend. With this, they outed him to his parents, which was an unpleasant experience, said Jurcic.

The attacks took place downtown, at Zrinjevac, near the main train station, near Cibona, and in tramway cars at night. One of the cases that took place in a tramway car occurred last May, one night shortly after midnight. In a tramway heading towards Tresnevci, a hooligan, surrounded by his friends, approached a 19-year-old man and asked him if he was a fag. After that he dropped his pants to his knees, insulted the young man and offered him his genitals.

October 1, 2004 – Gay Croatia Tourist Info

The house of Iskorak President Dorino Manzin attacked

Tonight at 12:50 AM, four men attacked the house of Iskorak President Dorino Manzin, using a street paver to break a window on the house. The attackers fled the scene immediately in an unknown direction. A brief police investigation was conducted, and there is no additional information about the attackers.

From the conversation with Dorino Manzin we find that he and his roommate were present for the entire incident, and they recognised one of the attackers as a "neighbourhood skinhead" according to Manzin.

We relay the entire letter from Mr. Manzin:
" At 12:40 AM I took my dog for a run, as I do every night. After my run I stopped by a tree in the neighbourhood and talked on my cell phone as I had received a call. The dog was walking around. At that moment, I heard incomprehensible voices coming from the beginning of the street, and I decided to stay in place and finish my phone call. Then I saw four men walk by me, aged between 20 and 26 [my personal estimate]. I recognised one of them as a neighbourhood "skinhead" kid, or one who follows their style. He had a green jacket, completely shaved head, black pants and sneakers. I could identify him.

One of the four men was pushing a bicycle. Two of them had long black hair, wore black jackets, and one had a hood. They walked by me, but they did not notice me. I followed them from behind. I saw that they walked up by my house, and I immediately called my friend who was in the house to go up to the window and see what was happening. It was 12:50 AM.
Then we both saw [I from some 40 meters away from them, and he from the window] how they kicked a garbage can over and rang the door bell. He heard that they were cursing at me, and immediately called the police.

After that they threw a roof shingle against the wall of the house and a street paver through the kitchen window, breaking it. Then they ran in the direction away from me, and I did not see them anymore. I stood still for a few moments and then went into the house. Two more housemates were in the house, and both of them were asleep. The third housemate came home at 1:20 AM. The police arrived at 1:30 AM. They conducted a very brief investigation. They had never heard about me or about Iskorak. They asked if my house served as headquarters for the organisation, as my roommate said on 92 that I live there. I told them in which direction they went, and that I could recognise at least one of the attackers who is a "skinhead" and lives in the neighbourhood.

Several months ago, my housemate and a friend of his were attacked by two hooligans in the neighbourhood, screaming "Manzin, Manzin!" He escaped by hiding in a building entrance. After the threats from MORH, as well as the threat written on the wall on Remiza, I decided to internationalise this entire situation. This is not the question of fear, but rather of dismay. And I will never accept the story which excuses this behaviour that there was a football match yesterday, so the boys drank a bit.

Sad and appalled,

(Manzin reported this incident to the legal team of Iskorak and Kontra, which will take all necessary legal steps to ensure that this case be legally processed, and attackers brought to the authorities and the court.)

15 December 2004 – From Aleks Gajsek, Webmaster of Gay Croatia

Commentary about Gay Croatia Today

by Aleks Gajsek
I liked your article about Croatia and I’m greatful for the compliments on our tourist site. Please note that our site is called Tourist Info and not Gay Croatia Tourist Info. The facts on Croatia presented in your article are correct and I do not oppose the content of the article.

However, generally speaking, I don’t like the picture of Croatia as a violent, intolerant, conservative catholic country which has been forged in war. Mostly because I find it to be false.

Journalists and reporters tend to focus on the war, which ended a decade ago, rather than describing the country of today. It is hard to describe Croatia without describing its past. But sometimes reporters are focusing so hard on the past that they forget to tell about Croatia of today. I believe your intro are balanced and I like your conclusion at the end of the article.

However, it could also be pointed out that Croatia is an ambitious country, which is changing very rapidly and striving to become a member of the EU in 2007 and NATO in 2006. Sometimes I meet LGBT tourists (mainly Americans) who don’t know much about Croatia and who are very surprised to find Croatia to be a peaceful country without any physical scars from the war which ended in year 1995.

Why is that? Most Americans believe that the whole of Croatia were bombed, however, when visiting Zagreb or the tourist resorts along the coast they wont find a single destroyed house. Only the area along the Bosnian and Serbian border (20% of the Croatian territory) were actually affected by the war and the majority in Croatia have not experienced bombing. People in Rijeka, Pula, Split, Varazdin and many other cities were following the war at the TV – just as people in New York, Paris or London. So, Croatia wasn’t as effected of the war as Bosnia-Herzegovina. (When writing about the war perhaps one should point out that Croatia was a victim of Milosevic’s politics and his will to establish a greater Serbia and that Croatia had to defend it self from Serbian aggression and occupation. During this aggression towards Croatia a lot of nasty things were done to harm the “other side”. Both Croatian and Serbian individuals conducted war crimes.)

I’m glad you pointed out that Croatia is not a devasted country and also described the beauties of our country.

When asked, many LGBT Croats will describe their country in negative terms. One reason is that LGBT people in Croatia are really discriminated against. But another reason is that many don’t know much about the life of LGBT people in other countries. They have nothing to compare with and cannot believe that LGBT people in western Europe or USA are also discriminated against. There are LGBT people in Croatia who believe that there is no violence against homosexuals in the USA or Holland and that LGBT people in Sweden don’t experience discrimination. But of course this is untrue.

Discrimination and violence towards LGBT people is a global problem. I believe Croatia is not more conservative or intolerant than any other European country. Croatia is a pretty “normal” European country in terms of intolerance and discrimination of LGBT people. There are countries in Europe which are more tolerant and where LGBT people are more accepted in society. But there are also countries which are less tolerant than Croatia.

Still, one can ask how come the Gay Pride Parade in 2002 was attacked. I believe one will find the roots to the intolerance in society in the independence war of 1991-1995. The war in Croatia led to increased nationalism. The legacy of nationalism and militarism plays an important role inside the Croatian society.

Such a legacy strongly contributes to the presence of hetero-normativity of the Croatian society, which assumes heterosexual behaviour as the one and only correct sexual behaviour.

The largest problem is that a lot of people in Croatia accept violence and do not protest if they see people being attacked, they are so to say, immune to brutality as a result of the war. There are only a small number of people, mostly skinheads, who really attacks homosexuals – but a larger number of people who don’t react to this and who are not ready to stand up for human rights and respect for minorities.

When writing/speaking about Croatia one should also point out some positive changes which have occurred in the country last years. In your article you’re writing about the anti-discrimination changes in the law and the Law on same-sex couples, which were adopted by Sabor (the Croatian parliament) in July 2003. Perhaps you should point out that these laws actually are among the most extensive and forthcoming laws concerning LGBT people in East- and Central Europe.

It is true, as Marko said in the interview – “most people still do not live by these laws and LGBT people still find public discrimination“. However, people in other Central European countries are also discriminated against but unlike these countries, in Croatia, a person who discriminates can be brought to justice with the support of the new laws, although I believe it will take some time before the laws will be used and implemented.

LGBT people in Croatia first have to learn that they have new rights. There are politicians and parties (not to mention the Catholic Church) who opposes these laws but most people in Croatia find these people and parties to be extreme. One also have to remember that the new laws has been debated publicly (in media; television, radio and newspapers) and that the majority of the political parties support these new laws in which discrimination of LGBT are prohibited.

In many other countries in East- and Central Europe the LGBT movement are still fighting to achieve the same changes as in Croatia. Also, even though the society are influenced by the Catholic Church the Church in Croatia is not nearly as strong and important as in Ireland or Poland. So, is Croatia really as conservative as it is said to be?

Another thing that should be pointed out is that violence towards LGBT people in Croatia are mostly conducted by neo-nazis and skinheads (most of them youngsters). As in many countries there are a large amount of people who don’t like homosexuals, but the spitting on Pride March participants (Zagreb Pride 2002) and violence against LGBT people in general have been executed by a minority of neo-nazis and extremists (sometimes older people with extreme values).

Reading the report of BBC (Zagreb Pride 2002) one gets the feeling that the whole Croatian society are violent and that anyone can and will attac you if somebody finds out that you’re gay. I believe Croatia is a pretty normal country when it comes to violence and prejudices against homosexuals.

The Pride marches in Copenhagen (Denmark) and Stockholm (Sweden) were attacked by neo- nazis year 2003. A Pride participant in Stockholm was beaten and almost killed. In countries such as Denmark and Sweden, which we all believe to be very LGBT friendly, neo-nazis are regurarly attacking places where LGBT people meet and hang out. In Sweden 2-4 persons are killed yearly because of their sexuality. In some countries in East- and Central (Belarus, Serbia etc.) the police force wouldn’t even care to protect Pride participants. There are also countries in which it would be impossible to organise such an event because of the intolerance of the society.

So, I believe there are not more victims of violence in Croatia than in other countries. Markos statement is, even though it’s true, exaggerated: “If you organise Pride parade in Slovenia, you’ll need common private security and 15 police officers. When we organise Zagreb pride, we need 10 000 anti-terrorist squad officers plus civil police!”

However, I believe this is a proof of that Croatia and the city of Zagreb has failed in combating the establishment of nazi- and hooligan organisations, rather than the public oppinion of homosexuality in the two countries.

The Slovenian public is also rather homophobic! Following comparison could be added: In Croatia it will only take three years for the LGBT movement to get the support of the political establishement and change the laws, while in Slovenia it will take a century to achieve the same goal.

I personally believe that the culture of Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary (but also Austria) are much the same. All three countries are Catholic countries and they were all a part of a common state for hundreds of years – the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The only difference is that while Slovenia and Hungary could start their democratisation process right after the fall of communism in 1989/1990, Croatia had to fight for its independence. The war for independence and aggression on Croatia led to increased nationalism which affected the attitude against LGBT people negatively.

After the liberalisation of the country and death of the first president (Franjo Tudjman) in 1999 the democratisation-process in Croatia has begun and the country is catching up its two neighbours. Nationalism is decreasing! Overall I find your article to be very interesting and it is nice to see that somebody cares to tell the story about Croatia and the life of LGBT people in our country. Thank you! All the best! Aleks Gajsek, ( Tourist Info,

July 17, 2005 – New York Times, New York

In Croatia, a New Riviera Beckons
(non-gay travel story)

by Steve Dougherty
" You will cry when you see it. Bring tissues. You will need them."
We are finishing a marathon meal at Macondo, a seafood restaurant on a nameless back alley in Hvar. My dinner companion, a local painter, writer and actor named Niksa Barisic, was talking about a historic theater built in 1612 during the Dalmatian Renaissance and still in use half a millennium later. But he could just as well have been describing his feelings for Hvar itself, a mountainous, lavender-scented isle set in the blue, sun-blasted Adriatic Sea off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.

For centuries, the island has lured visitors and inspired poets. "I know paradise now, I know Hvar," a lyric local saying goes. Now, 10 years after the end of a bloody civil war that devastated much of Croatia, it still struggles as it sees hope for its future in ancient tourist meccas like Hvar, sister islands like Korcula and Mljet, and Dubrovnik – Croatia’s, and, arguably, Europe’s, most beautiful city.

Recently rediscovered as an off-the-radar haven by the international celebrity set and their media-camp followers, Dubrovnik and Dalmatia’s many romantic islands and hidden coves provided backdrops for lavish photo layouts in magazines like GQ, which this year proclaimed the Croatia "the Next Riviera, " and Sports Illustrated. In May, Croatia, a scythe-shaped country that sits astride the star-crossed, blood-drenched Balkans, was named the world’s hottest travel destination in the new edition of the Lonely Planet guide to Croatia, which cited its "rich diversity of attractions," accessibility and "relative affordability" (its currency, the kuna, is far friendlier to the dollar than the euro is) as well as its "stunning beaches and islands" and "magnificent food."

That’s a surprising turnaround for a country that saw its most fabled city, Dubrovnik, nearly destroyed by artillery bombardments during a months-long siege in the 1991-95 war. With eight million visitors expected in Croatia this summer, the government-run national tourist board has begun a campaign to restore tourism to its prewar levels, when upward of 10 million visitors annually flocked to the beaches of Dalmatia and Istria, the neighboring coastal province to the north. Back then, the tourist industry accounted for a full third of Croatia’s national income. Tourism officials say that the number of visitors has grown 6 to 10 percent in each of the past several years.

Nowhere is the tourist board’s touted "Magical Croatia" brand more fitting than on Hvar, where they give names to the wind but not the streets, where children are said to fly and the richest man in the world has to wait for his latte during fjaka, when the island tucks in for its afternoon siesta.

Holding court at Macondo, Mr. Barisic, a burly, bearded cross between Jerry Garcia and Zorba the Greek, is quick to cackle at his own stories and eager to share his knowledge and love for Hvar and its bounty. "You must be careful," he cautioned as he poured me a glass of the rich local red, strong as it is delicious. "One glass you won’t feel; have two, you won’t feel a thing."

Describing Hvar (awkward in English, it’s pronounced hwahr) as a "hideaway for the creative poor and the very rich," Mr. Barisic said, "Celebrities like to come here because they’re left alone. Bill Gates sails in on his yacht and no one pays any attention. No one cares. There are no paparazzi, no fans, no autographs. I was in a cafe with my daughter and a lady sat down at the next table. My daughter said, ‘Dad, that’s the lady from "Shakespeare in Love." ‘ "

Gwyneth Paltrow is among the many red-carpet faces seen blending in with the crowds in recent summers. "It gets to be like 42nd Street around here in July and August," Mr. Barisic said the next afternoon as he sipped a whiskey-laced coffee in one of Hvar’s outdoor cafes. "No one sleeps during the season. Everyone is jumping around, singing and roaming the streets until dawn." The scene is hard to imagine during a visit in late March, when the sun-drenched square, a wide piazza from the 13th century paved with polished white stone mined on Hvar and its sister island, Brac (the same stone was used in Split to build the palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian and, 16 centuries later, the White House) is deserted during fjaka.

Toddlers chase pigeons across the square, squealing with delight. Elderly men smoke in the cool shadows cast by the bell tower of the 16th-century Cathedral of St. Stephen, which forms the picturesque west face of the square. A three-legged dog, a red scarf tied at its neck, trots as best it can behind its master who, like most dog owners here, carries a leash but seldom has use for it. Dogs here are a well-trained lot who obey voice commands and stroll in and out of the open-air cafes as they please. Their owners don’t bother scooping up after them. That work is left to professionals, street cleaners who do an excellent job keeping tourists’ Manolo sandals unsoiled during the raucous high season.

My friend Buga Novak, a Hvar-born translator and interpreter who lives in Zagreb, took me on a walking tour of Hvar town. Strolling the riva, the long waterfront promenade that winds around the harbor, she pointed out a hilltop fortress and the remains of city walls that were built in the 13th century to defend against Turkish pirates. Far above, another fortress, built by Napoleon, one in a long list of invaders, today bristles not with cannon but with instruments to record seismological and meteorological data. On summer nights, when the fortifications above are illuminated and fishing boats bob at anchor in the harbor, films are shown in an open-air theater where audiences sit at tables, drinks are served and, Ms. Novak says, the chatter and action off screen can be as entertaining as the film.

In front of the Hotel Palace, children play at the base of the Pillar of Shame, where in the Middle Ages sinners were tied up for display, jeered at and spat upon. Nearby, water taxis line up along the riva to ferry summer hordes of beer-cooler toting "naturists" – the guidebook euphemism for those who like to perform their sun worshiping naked – to the island’s highly popular offshore nudist beaches. " The ancient Greeks and the Romans were growing grapes and producing wine on Hvar 300 years before Christ," said Andro Tomic, a local vintner, as he toured his vineyards high on the windward face of the near vertical mountain ridge that runs the length of Hvar. Mr. Tomic was one of only a handful of Croatians I met who did not speak English.

With Ms. Novak translating, Mr. Tomic said that Hvar’s abundance of sun and strong winds – which he called "ideal conditions for producing the highest quality grapes" – had kept the vineyards insect and disease free. Those same winds blow with such force off the Adriatic that workers tending the vines have to be tethered by ropes to prevent them from being swept from the mountainside and cast out to sea, Mr. Tomic said.

Mythologized by islanders’ ancestors, the winds are known by name throughout Dalmatia, explained Ms. Novak, who swears her Hvar-born mother "flew" as a child, lifted off her feet by a gust and blown the length of her family’s backyard. "Bura, the good north wind, blows clouds and bad weather away," she said. "It is said that the evil south wind, Jugo, awakens the existing demons within you." From the Iron Age to the Iron Curtain and beyond, war has been a fact of life in a country that sits at the bloody crossroads between Europe and Asia Minor. Ten years after fighting ceased in the latest installment – the five-year civil war that left more than 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, caused more than $20 billion in damages and left much of the country in ruin – the scars are not often visible, but the effects remain profoundly felt.

In the Dalmatian port city of Split, physical damage suffered during the war has long since been repaired. But the city, with its terraced homes and its Lido-like riva of outdoor cafes, is awash in unemployment, drugs and crime that arose in the aftermath of the war. Good hotels are few. Many more are in disrepair, having only recently been vacated by thousands of homeless war refugees who were given temporary housing in the city. One such is run by a skeleton staff and is embarked on a dubious campaign to attract tourists by hyping its casino and American Go Go Club, featuring 36 dancers and a "Lesbian Sex Show."
Split is home to the enormous, fortresslike marble palace where the Emperor Diocletian, known for his persecution of Christians, retired in the early fourth century. The place still teems with life; residents live in its apartments, and many restaurants and pubs allow visitors to dance, at least figuratively, on the emperor’s grave.

With a 1,700-year-old interactive theme park like that in its midst, Split may well regain its standing as a leading tourist destination. Now, however, the city serves primarily as a jumping-off place for tourists catching ferries to the offshore islands or heading south on the Adriatic Highway, the spectacular, 150-mile coast road to Dubrovnik that offers a drive every bit as eye-popping as California’s Highway 1, only without the fog shrouding the view.

Well-paved if serpentine and heavily trafficked, the highway hugs the mountainous coastline, offering vertigo-inducing views of the Adriatic at every turn. As it winds along the Makarska Riviera, the roadway is carved from the limestone cliff face of a snowcapped mountain ridge. Small towns with their clusters of orange-tile-roofed homes nestle around coves far below. The spires of churches and cypress trees reach heavenward, toward us.

South of Makarska, the highway crosses a wide, fertile flood plain, where farmers at roadside stands sell oranges and honey and tall, slender bottles of olive or lavender oils.

In unsettling counterpoint to that peaceful scene, an ugly black scrawl of graffiti is spray-painted on a billboard in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the highway passes through a 10-mile-wide strip in Dalmatia that gives Croatia’s neighbor access to the sea), with the words "I Love …" in English followed by a swastika. The graffiti markings are a chilling reminder that old hatreds die hard in the Balkans. So are the dozens of white ribbons of cloth tied to roadside bushes and fence posts we see when we take a long detour across the mountains and into Krajina.

Most guidebooks warn visitors away from Krajina, a former Serbian enclave that was the scene of bloody sectarian violence during the war. The cloth strips, Ms. Novak said, were tied to mark the location of land mines planted during the war and yet to be removed by the Croatian military.

Around a bend, we see a large color photo poster of a fugitive Croatian army general, Ante Gotovina, wanted by the Hague war crimes tribunal. The general, like some Serbian counterparts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia’s primary foe in the 1991-95 war, stands accused of committing atrocities during that conflict.

Most Croatians I spoke with say they are looking west in the hope of gaining admission to the European Union, which they believe would bring security to the volatile, war-torn Balkan region, reduce trade restrictions and enable the country’s ancient wine and olive industries to flourish anew. The general, whose whereabouts are unknown, is the focus of new debate. During my visit it was announced that Croatia’s invitation to join the union was contingent in part upon his arrest or surrender, actions strongly opposed by the country’s loud rightist minority. Beneath the poster’s portrait of the warrior in uniform, his supporters wrote the words "Hero, Not Criminal."

War and its terrors are not readily conjured today in Dubrovnik, the Croatian city hardest hit in the war. The long-prosperous and proudly neutral city state that survived for centuries as a beacon of international cooperation while mightier powers arrayed around it battled and bled, Dubrovnik is a walled seaside town of orange tiled roofs, marble streets and lyrically placed turrets and towers that make it look like a sculpture, exquisite from any angle.

Like many of Dubrovnik’s architectural treasures, the elegant Hotel Imperial, severely damaged and in flames after an artillery bombardment in 1991, has been painstakingly restored to its prewar glory. Painted a bright Hapsburg yellow, with filigreed wrought-iron balconies adorning its facade, the hotel reopened in spring under its new owners, the Hilton Hotel chain, one of many United States and European companies and private individuals who see gold in this beautiful but tragedy-stalked city and country. Just as foreign investors, who have been buying seaside homes and condominiums in Dalmatia, are betting on a lasting peace, some Croatians I talked with are wary.

" Every generation has its war," said Ms. Novak’s 85-year-old grandfather, Bozidar Novak, who as a teenage partisan leader during World War II fought Fascists in the mountains of Hvar. His son, Srdjan, now a professor of physics at the University of Zagreb, nodded in agreement. "It isn’t something you think about," said Srdjan, a civil war veteran, "when it’s your home you’re fighting for." Even Mr. Barisic, the self-described "free artist" of Hvar whom everyone calls Art, found himself joining the battle. "All my life I hated uniforms," he said. "I am Art, not war. But when war happens, you live it. It is not something you fear or avoid.

" Now," however, Mr. Barisic said, "I am finished with war. That’s the last one. It’s over. Ours is the last generation to fight in a war."

" I would be drunk with happiness if it was so," said Zdravko Bazdan, a University of Dubrovnik economics professor who survived near daily bombardments during the siege of the city. "But this being the Balkans," he said, "you never know."

Along the Dalmatian Coast, Many Spots Worth a Visit
The Croatian National Tourist Office, (800) 829-4416,, is a useful source for information.

Getting There
Though there are no direct flights from the United States, connecting flights from the New York area to Dubrovnik can be booked through most major European cities. Croatia Travel, (800) 662-7628,, arranges connections through Croatia Airlines,, on a number of airlines. In early July, a round-trip American Airlines flight from New York to Dubrovnik in late August (transferring in Manchester, England, to British Airways) was $1,065. While regular rail service to Croatia is available from most Western European countries, the going can be slow and even slower within Croatia. Bus service is more reliable, with daily service from Germany, Italy and Austria ( and an extensive network of domestic routes ( Car ferries operate daily during the summer (less frequently off season) between Italy and the Dalmatian coast, crossing the Adriatic from Ancona to Hvar, in 10 hours (berths from $40, cars $70, at $1.22 to the euro) on Croatia’s largest ferry company, Jadrolinija,

Where to Stay
With hotel rooms at a premium along the coast during July and August, enterprising locals rent space in their homes by posting signs in town or on line. Private accommodations can be found on the Web at sites like and Hotel prices here are for high season, and include breakfast.
HVAR Hotel Amfora, (385-21) 741-202; If the private beach is too crowded, try the big pool (scuba and snorkeling lessons available) or enjoy the view of the small cove and winding riva from the balcony of the spacious fourth-floor lobby. Double rooms start at about $100, at 6.3 kuna to the dollar.
Hotel Palace, (385-21) 741-966; Facing Hvar’s small but active harbor, the century-old hotel was built on the site of a Venetian palace that once housed the local parliament. Doubles from $180.
DUBROVNIK Hotel Excelsior, Frana Supila 12,;(385-20) 353-353; A recently renovated luxury hotel offering five-star accommodation and service. The view from the Excelsior’s terraces and balconies as the sun sets behind Dubrovnik is unsurpassed. Doubles from $255.
Pucic Palace, Od Puca, (385-20) 326-222; In the heart of Dubrovnik’s walled old town, the four-story stone Palace, once a nobleman’s opulent home, catered to visiting merchants, aristocrats and dignitaries during Dubrovnik’s days as an international trading center. Today’s guests enjoy in-room DVD players and art treasures on loan from the city’s leading museums. Doubles from $584.

Where to Eat
HVAR A cozy, candlelight-and-artwork-filled seafood restaurant located in a narrow, nameless alleyway a few stone steps from the town square, Macondo, (385-21) 742-850 (named after the town in "One Hundred Years of Solitude"), offers fresh seafood and shellfish and wonderful local wines (the white Bogdanusa – "God’s given grape" – and the red Ploski Plovac, 14 percent alcohol, are superb). Dinner for two, with wine, about $90.

MALI STON This tiny town was built with 14th-century walls and fortifications on the Peljesac Peninsula, some of which still stand. Mali Ston, in southern Dalmatia, and its sister town, Ston, are renowned for the fresh oysters and mussels harvested from shellfish farms in the waters of the surrounding fjords. Kapetanova Kuca, (385-20) 754-264, a patio restaurant, with an array of pastas and succulent shellfish, is a popular stop for travelers on the Dalmatian highway. Oysters, an entree and wine cost about $80 for two

DUBROVNIK Lora Rudnjak, the owner of Ragusa 2, Prijeko 30, (385-20) 321-203, a seafood restaurant and sidewalk cafe in the old town, took the name in turn from the original Ragusa (the name of Dubrovnik when it was an independent city-state), which her family started in Dubrovnik in 1929. Featured along with seafood, pastas and risotto are large platters of Croatian cheeses, thinly sliced Dalmatian smoked ham, octopus salad, oysters, mussels and clams. Dinner for two with wine, about $55.
Steve Dougherty wrote about night life in Reykjavik, Iceland, for the Travel section in December.

October 12, 2005 – India Daily

Croatian Gays No Longer want to be in the Closet

Hundreds of Croatian homosexuals published their names in newspapers adverts on Tuesday in what they said was a symbolic plea for more tolerance in the conservative Roman Catholic country. Two biggest selling dailies, Jutarnji List and Vecernji List, ran the ad entitled “We don’t want to hide anymore.”

It contained first names, age and sexual orientation—gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual—of 1,200 Croats.

“And this is just the beginning,” the advert said, inviting readers to visit the Web site. Tuesday is National Coming Out Day, meant to encourage homosexualsto publicly display their sexual orientation and fight for equal rights as those enjoyed by heterosexuals. Coming Out Day commemorates the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, when more than half a million people protested against the US government’s inadequate response to the AIDS crisis and to anti-gay legislation.

Homosexuality was considered a deviation and was never publicly discussed during 50 years of communist Yugoslavia. Croatia gained independence in 1991 but gay rights did not improve until reformers ousted hardline nationalists from power in 2000. The first gay rights parade in Zagreb was held in 2002, under heavy police protection.

"This is a symbolic coming out, but it shows that gays in Croatia are mustering courage to fully reveal their identities. That means the society is becoming more tolerant," said Dorino Manzin of gay rights group Iskorak (Step Forward) Almost 90 per cent of Croatia’s 4.4 million people declare themselves as Roman Catholics. Homosexuality is still a taboo and very few publicly known Croats have admitted to being gay.

Names of LGBT Croatians:
Dijana 26 L , Alen 18 B + Damir 20 G , Bo_e 22 Q , Marko 22 Q , Hana 19 B , Aljo_a 19 G , Bruno 19 B , Sa_a 20 G + Ivan 26 B , Roman 26 G , Petar 23 G , Ivana 26 B , Damir 25 B , Zoran 31 G , Ivana 21 B , Göran 21 G , Tomislav 21 G , Viktor 20 G , Tomislav 22 G , Igor 18 G , Mirza 19 G , Andrej 18 B , Dunja 20 L , Zoran 20 G , Ante 19 G , Ivan 36 G , Dejan 19 Q , Marjana 30 L , Roni 25 B , Ivan 24 B , Goran 21 G , Tatjana 38 L + Vera 48 B , Martina 19 B + Ana 18 L , Martina 19 L + Ana 18 B , Hrvoje 25 G + Gabrijel 19 G , Marko 27 G , Ivana 25 B , Danijel 20 G , Sa_a 30 Q , Duje 17 G , Dario 20 G , Mihovila 14 Q , Bojan 22 G , Antonio 21 G , Tomislav 22 G , Jelena 24 B , Matija 20 B , Nedim 16 B , Vlatka 25 B + Andrea 24 L , Sandro 21 B , Margareta 23 L , Vedran 24 B , Mirsad 19 G , Sandra 20 T , Berislav 27 G + Jadran 39 G , Filip 22 G , Tomislav 25 G , Dalibor 19 G , Dalibor 33 G , _arko 42 B , Vlada 27 G , Danijel 24 G , Ivan 24 G , Dalibor 33 B + Nikola 33 B , Gordan 25 G , Nikola 19 G , Mislav 24 B , Danijel 30 G + Sa_a 25 G , Bo_o 33 B , Ivan 46 G , Dejan 29 B , Ne _elim se vi_e skrivati , Sanjin 22 G , Domagoj 24 G , Hrvoje 37 B , Sanja 31 L + Irena 29 L , Neno 25 B , Denis 30 G , Robert 44 G + Zlatko 33 G , Davor 43 G , Sun_ana 31 L , Nina 18 L , Branka 32 L , Robert 27 B , Dario 23 B , Vinko 29 G , Dalibor 28 B , Tomislav 28 G , Tonci 30 G , Sandra 20 L , Ana 26 B , Hrvoje 22 G , Ozren 19 G , Daniel 29 G , Branka 28 B , Danijel 28 G , Iva 22 B , Lana 24 L , Alen 16 G , Milan 24 G , Slaven 23 G , Marina 22 B , Karlo 29 G , Petar 23 G , Nikola 21 G , Davor 30 G + Goran 24 G , Goga 23 B , Mario 18 B , Selma 26 L + Sonja 22 L , Marina 22 L , Sanja 20 L , Ivan 19 B + Duje 18 B , Tomislav 20 G , Dragana 20 L + Anamarija 30 L , Kristijan 23 G , Jaka 31 G + Denis 33 G , Niko 22 G , Damir 35 G , Dario 23 B + Ivan 21 G , Kre_imir 24 G , Josip 24 G , Emir 23 G , Silva 20 L , Arina 26 L , Danijela 32 L , Dejan 25 G , Ivan 23 B , Karlo 28 G + Stipe 26 G , Zoran 26 G , Mario 20 B , Dalibor 21 B , Sa_a 35 G , _eljko 26 G , Sanja 23 L , Vlado 22 G , Kre_imir 25 G , Danijel 28 G , Mario 24 B , Tanja 23 L , Ivan 22 B , Miljenko 25 G , Daniel 25 G + Ante 26 G , Darko 25 G , Damir 27 G + David 21 G , Dino 23 G , Mario 21 G , Milka 22 Q , Kristijan 20 G , Matija 22 G + Zvonimir 23 G , Omar 16 B , Martina 26 L + Ru_a 28 L , Tomi 25 G , Dejan 25 G , Vedran 17 G , Petra 19 B , Sara 20 L , Dra_en 21 B , Lana 23 B , Mato 35 G + Mladen 26 G , Frane 43 G , Karmen 43 Q , Marko 29 G , Matija 19 G , Ljiljana 21 L + Nikolina 24 L , Marko 27 G , Tomislav 36 G , Stjepan 17 B , Damir 20 G , Marko 18 B , Matija 38 G , Biljana 25 L , Ante 19 G + Damir 19 G , Mihael 23 B , Viktor 20 G + Luka 22 G , Jelena 23 L , David 17 G , Mihael 19 G , Kristijan 24 G , Robi 32 G , Marko 21 G , Jurica 20 G , Igor 19 G , Andrija 20 G , Zvonimir 22 G , Mario 29 G , Irena 22 B , Ivan 26 G , Damir 22 G , Mario 16 G , Matija 21 G , Kre_o 33 G , Jelena 16 Q , Toni 32 G + Chris 31 G , Damir 27 G , Marko 20 G , Emil 37 G + Tamas 20 G , Emi 33 L , Zvonomir 26 G , Vlasta 24 L , Iva 26 L , Sanja 33 L , Ani 31 L , Mario 23 G , Mario 31 G + Darko 33 G , Branka 27 B , Maja 27 L , Petra 28 L , Rita 17 B + Nita 16 B , Marko 20 G , Asim 30 G , Josip 28 G , Antonio 34 G , Dorino 29 G , Vesna 50 L , Barbara 26 L , Goran 37 G , Boris 26 G , Brane 26 G , Sven 26 B , Urosh 19 G , _eljko 20 G , Zoran 21 G , Vedran 24 G , Sini_a 17 G , Patrik 22 B , Dado 30 G , Sanja 20 B , Dragan 39 G , Karlo 23 G , Dolores 24 L , Vesna 23 L , Antonio 28 G , Neno 21 G , Dra_en 26 G , Frane 21 G , Dra_en 34 G , Dada 25 L , _eljko 23 G , Ante 28 G , Dorijan 24 G , Mario 29 G , _ime 25 G , Pa_ko 22 G , Valentino 28 G , Renato 25 G , Mladen 39 G , Kre_o 29 G , Mate 23 G , Lorenta 25 L , Ane 31 L , _an 30 G , Igor 39 G , Milorad 33 G , Luka 23 G , Ivo 26 G , Nato 24 G , Vlado 24 G , Boris 24 G , Tome 27 G , Jure 22 B , Suzana 22 L + Sandra 28 L , Livio 38 G , Nino 26 G , Zeljko 47 G , Josko 46 G , Marin 35 G , Viktor 41 G , Morena 20 L , Davorka 20 B , Mojca 68 I , Tomislav 29 G , Primo_ K. 19 B , Marko 26 G , Luka 22 G + Uro_ 24 G , Gianni 38 G , Tomislav 36 Q , Marijo 25 I , Fanika 20 L , Sergej 28 G , Milan 38 G , Dean 28 G , Ivan 24 G , Ivan 18 B , Arsen 22 G , Josip 21 G , Branko 19 G , Ivo 47 G , Andrija 50 B , Bruno 22 G , Lorenzo 27 G + Sebastijan 25 G , Dragan 19 G , Damir 20 G , _ivana 34 L , Mihael 19 G , Sini_a 29 B , Dalibor 24 G , Lordan 37 G , Klaudio 28 G , _ime 34 G , Vedran 26 G , Ljiljana 38 L , Ana 33 L , Edi 30 G , Tihomir 24 G , Stiven 33 G , Sa_a 35 G , Valerija 26 L , Ljubica 45 H , Tina 36 T , Davor 37 G , Branka 45 L , Hrvoje 24 G , Jo_a 24 B , Ivan 25 B + Matija 19 G , Igor 24 G , Domagoj 16 B , Tomislav 24 G , Vedrana 22 L , Ivan 26 G , Igor 20 G , Marko 19 G , Zvone 26 B + Pero 27 G , Jura 19 G , Vanja 33 B , Nadjin 33 L + Luna 32 B , Nenad 25 G , Branka 32 B , Tajana 26 L , Igor 35 G , Gabrijela 29 Q , Miljenko 23 G , Tihomir 27 G , Jasna 26 L + Sanda 25 L , Kristijan 31 G , Stjepan B. 24 G , Marija 24 H , Mario 29 G , Igor 33 B , Josip 21 B + Kre_imir 22 G , Semsudin 17 G , Vanja 23 G , Igor 29 G , Amir 34 G , Mile 35 G , Ante 32 G , Mirko 23 G , Ahmet 45 G , Mevludin 43 B , Muhamed 23 G , Davor 29 G + Nasera 24 L , Mujo 23 B , Irena 25 B , Faruk 55 G , Igor 22 H + Una 21 H , Zvonimir 30 G , Tamara 21 L , Martina 16 L + Snje_ana 18 L , Marijan 25 G , Damir 28 G , Draz"en 24 B , Damir 29 G , Vedran 23 G + Goran 24 G , Igor 31 G , Natasa 24 L + Tihana 24 L , Jasmina 30 L , Antonia 20 H , Ivana 29 H , Igor 26 G + Janko 20 G , Iva 28 H , Loris 27 G + Dejan 25 G , Neno 25 B , Matija 27 G , Goran 27 G , Marin 24 G , Tomislav 28 G , Danko 23 H , Izabela 27 B , Jelena 31 H , Mirko 28 B , Bruno 23 G , Ivan 27 G , Ciro 38 L , Darko 19 G + Dejan 33 G , Vlado 24 G , Sandro 27 G , Robert 29 G , Martin 22 G , Marinko 27 G , Slavko 26 G , Darko 24 G , Anita 34 L , Vjeko 27 G , Goran 25 G , Bo_o 26 G , Alen 26 G , Tina 29 L , Sanja 26 L , _eljko 26 G , Marko 39 G , Ante 45 G , Ivo 41 B , Tomislav 34 G , Andrija 20 G , Kristina 28 L , Ana 19 L , Vanesa 28 L , Ivana 19 L , Goran 28 G , Sanjin 26 G , Damir 28 G , Samir 32 G , Nata_a 23 L , Danijel 25 G , Pantelija 13 T , Josip 25 G + Mario 24 G , Miljenko 30 G , Daniel 24 B , Ana 25 L , Ljiljana 21 B + Nikolina 24 L , Katarina 22 H , Kruno 18 G + Ante 18 B , Tamara 19 L , Kruno 30 G , Maja 25 L , Marko 17 T , Iva 25 B , _ivo 24 G , Goran 41 G , Ivica 28 H , Tomislav 20 G , Robert 24 G , Trpimir 31 G , Dalibor 23 B , Monika 26 B , Alan 31 G , Marko 20 G , Ivana 20 B , Sanjin 23 Q , _eljko 35 G , Branka 51 L , Tamara 17 H , Vlatka 25 Q + Lora 24 L , Meho 15 G , Ivan 35 G , Zoran 20 G , Boris 30 G , Martin 25 B , Tina 31 B , Damir 31 T , Karlo 24 G , Valentina 31 L + Anita 34 L , Mate 26 B , Mile 39 G , Irina 33 B , Damir 29 G , Robert 29 G , Josip 30 G , Petra 21 B , Nino 21 G , Ivana 16 B , Aleksandar 17 B , Tomislav 27 G , Andreja 38 L , Mateja 25 L , Jelena 25 L , Vana 20 L , Toni 18 G , Ivor 29 G , Zrinka 38 L , Matilda 18 H , Ivan 25 B , Bojan 27 G , Ivana 34 H , Nenad 22 G , Sasa 34 G , Dinko 26 G , Sa_a 27 G , Stipe 58 B , _ana 29 L , Roman 37 G , Dario 40 G , Ivona 43 L , Lana 36 L , Marija 38 L , Izabela 29 L , Maja 32 L , Ivan 26 G , Frane 35 G , Frane 21 G , Toni 19 B , Alen 51 G , Marko 44 G , Vlado 17 G , Ana 27 L , Matej 31 G , Sini_a 38 B , Nensi 35 L , Karolina 24 L + Danijela 25 L , Danijel 22 G , Vidoslav 19 G , Kruno 31 G , Goran 42 G , Martin 52 G , Stjepan 28 G , Franjo 19 G , Andrej 23 G , Ante 38 L + Hrvoje 31 G , Bojan 24 G , Slavko 18 G + Marin 21 G , Branko 47 G , Damir 28 G , Ivan 34 B , Daniel 23 G + Nenad 25 G , Sonja 26 L , Damir 18 B , Marina 28 L , Edvin 33 G , Mladen 29 G , Tome 25 G , Rade 28 G , Marija 31 L , Sre_ko 49 G , Lovre 18 G , Vitomir 29 G , Jasna 24 L , Nikolino 20 G , Nino 26 B , Denis 30 G , Darija 33 L , Jellena 20 B , Miranda 42 L , Marijana 25 L , Kata 23 L , Ozren 41 G , Alenka 32 L , Roko 25 G , Jure 26 G , Kre_o 32 G , Neven 44 G , Samir 32 G , Deana 33 L , Maja 45 L , Petar 24 G , Dean 27 G , Zdravko 43 G , Brane 30 B , Ivica 22 G , Anita 34 L , Valentina 31 L , Martin 25 G , Boris 30 G , Srdan 23 H , Vedran 19 B , Alen 36 H , Ana 18 I , daniel 24 G , Ivan 22 B , Jaca 41 B + Daniela 38 L , Gordan 32 Q , Goran 35 G , Mia 15 L , Adrian 25 Q , Nikola 19 G , Ivona 26 L , Maksim 28 B , Milan 18 B , Zvone 24 G , Stefan 31 G , Tonko 23 G , Sandra 28 B , Zlatko 45 G , Mislav 25 G , Iva 20 B , Rino 27 G + Mario 31 G , Andrija 20 H , Tanja 26 H , Tomislav 25 G , Marko 23 G , _eljko 39 G , Ivica 29 G , Sven 22 G , Marjan 28 G , Veljko 47 G , Vesna 47 L , Romano 44 G , Branko 33 G , Bruno 24 G , Noa 18 G , Ante 25 G , Zoran 31 G , Davor 32 G , Vlatko 38 G , Eda 41 L , Slaven 27 G , Emil 28 G , Mauro 25 G , Vitomir 29 G , Antonio 20 G , Sr_an 38 G , Dolores 24 L , Davorka 44 L , Jovica 50 T , Tihana 27 B , Tome 22 G , Martin 25 B , Frane 21 G , Ivan 23 G , Martin 21 G , Damir 24 G , Sa_o 26 G , Maro 27 G , Manuel 28 G , Nikola 25 G , Svetlana 22 L , Kristijan 29 H + Milena 26 H , Igor 31 G , Ira 20 L , Jelena 24 L , Squall 24 G + _adj 21 B , Nedzad 35 G , Rony 23 G , Zoran 33 B , bojan 15 G , Kre_imir 18 G , Ivan 18 G , Vladimir 33 G , Mario 36 B , Ivan 22 G + Stjepan 26 G , Hrvoje 28 B , Drago 24 G , Nenad 28 G + Dragomir 32 G , Danko 23 H , Jakov 26 G , Neven 25 G , Vinko 26 B , Du_ko 29 G , Josip 39 G , Zdravko 26 G , Iva 22 Q , Ivan 22 G , Magdalena 20 B , Maja 17 L , Davor 25 G , Sergio 25 H , Ines 22 B + Vedran 28 H , Filip 35 G + Igor 31 G , Marko 30 G + Tony 25 G , Ante 19 G , Tomislav 17 B , Tijana 26 L , Jan 20 G , Hrvoje 31 G , Marko 29 B , Ivana 24 L , Marko 26 G , Kre_o 25 B , Franjo 30 G , Toni 28 G , Ivana 29 L , Iva 24 L + Marija 23 L , _eljko 28 G + Ivan 28 G , Marko 36 G , Marko 17 H , Tihomir 27 G , Igor 29 G , Antonio 26 G + Giovani 26 G , Dejana 24 B , Silvio 26 G , Dragica 27 L , Edo 25 B , Ivan 30 G , Mihajlo 18 B , Igor 26 B , Davor 25 B , Marija 23 L , Tena 17 B , Valentin 23 G , Danijela 19 B + Ana 16 B , Andrija 24 G + Robert 29 G , Paula 17 L + Milena 17 L , Kristian 26 G , David 18 G + Tin 18 B , Enes 23 G , _iga 17 G , Ana 29 L , Ivana 23 L , Luka 17 G , Igor 26 G , Damir 39 G + Milan 38 G , Damir 29 G , Silvia 37 H , Vedran 22 G , Davor 25 B , Nina 42 H , Nik_a 33 G + Mario 31 G , Marija 17 B , Davor 26 G , Marija 25 L , Marina 21 L , Marijan 24 G + Zvonimir 22 G , Jura 35 G + Mimi 32 G , Ian 28 G , Ljiljana 33 L + Natasa 28 L , Josip 24 G , Ana 20 B , Arijana 19 L , Lea 25 L , Lana 23 L , Lana 26 L , Ksenija 25 Q , Zoran 48 H , Matko 23 G , Nikica 36 G , Smiljana 42 L , Jo_ko 26 G , Dario 28 G , Ante 25 G , Fabijan 24 G , Petar 28 G , Mark 45 G , Tomislav 24 G + Damir 25 G , Ivica 24 G , Goran 25 G , Iva 23 B , Neno 41 G , Morana 34 L , Ana 29 B , Rino 26 G , Marijo 31 G , Ivica 23 G , Renato 24 G , Dra_en 34 G , Frane 21 G , Stipica 29 B , Zoran 25 G + Alan 18 G , Jane 29 L + Emma 31 L , Mirko 20 G , Nikolina 30 L , _elimir 29 G , Ivica 28 G , Dorijan 20 G , Sonja 26 L , Renata 44 L , Marija 48 L , Mira 24 L , Marta 25 L , Lino 27 G , Zdenko 39 G , Marko 27 G , Damir 26 G , Zlatko 41 G , Deana 22 L , Anita 19 L , Sara 20 L , Lara 29 L , Mia 33 L , Vedran 30 B , Sa_a 18 G , Petar 22 B , Tomislav 25 G + Daniel 21 G , Ivana 19 B , Ina 22 B , Ana 22 L + Martina 22 B , Jan 29 G , Marko 17 B , Slavica 31 L , Maja 31 L , Tihomir 24 G , Adrian 26 G , Duje 20 B , Dean 26 G , Gordana 28 L , Neven 39 G , Marko 24 G , Mario 26 G , Dejan 22 G , Alen 21 G , Djurdjica 22 L , Petar 21 G + Boris 22 G , Alen 25 G , Kre_o 33 G , Tihomir 38 G , Dragan 42 H , Vesna 44 H , Kata 68 H , Leo 22 G , Tomislav 24 G , Hrvoje 24 G , Ivana 28 L , Josip 33 G , Domagoj 24 G , Bojan 24 G , Ivana 25 B , Amir 27 G , Emil 28 G , Jaki_a 24 B , Borna 32 G , Mirna 43 L , Zvonimir 38 B , Damir 42 G , Marin 18 G , Lidija 16 B , Sr_ana 19 L + Ivona 19 G , Eugen 22 G , Ivan 22 G , Radojka 39 L , Nena 33 L , Tanja 18 H , Marko 23 G + Franko 22 G , Maja 27 H , Dino 19 H , Kristina 21 L , Iva 20 B , Branka 17 L , Ivo 28 G , Martina 22 L , Robert 29 G , Matija 17 G + Kristijan 25 G , Nikolina 18 B , Tomislav 24 G , Marija 21 Q , Pavu_a 52 H , Bojan 22 G + Josip 30 G , Kristijan 22 G , nina 18 B , Iva 21 H , Dado 23 B , Marko S. 40 G + Ivan S. 41 G , David 29 G + Igor 23 L , Josip 27 G , Bo_ena 22 L , Mladen 37 G , Bojan 40 G , Karlo 23 G , Ozren 29 G , _eljko 23 G , Kre_o 23 G , Anonio 28 G , Anto 33 G , Ivan 19 G , Zoran 45 G , Ivana 44 L , Goran 20 G , Dejan 33 G , Darko 23 L , Dunja 21 B , Kre_o 27 G , Damir 25 G , Ivan 20 G , Ratko 25 B , Luka 22 G , Rikardo 43 G , Goran 21 G , Valerija 18 L , Marko 21 B + Danijel 21 B , Igor 28 G , Danijel 26 G + Igor 28 G , Nusret 39 B , Bojan 18 G + Ervin 22 G , Nikola 26 G , Sanela 28 L , Darko 38 G , Andrea 16 Q , Lidija 45 L , Mihajlo 19 G , Laura 19 L , Nenad 40 B , Denis 42 G , Ivica 43 G Mate 27 G , Josip 27 G , Igor 21 G , Pero 23 G , Vlatko 40 B , Vesna 24 L , Pedja 30 G + Damir 25 G , Marko 28 G , Diana 29 L , Viktorija 24 L , Filip 36 G , _iro 57 Q , Riki 22 G + Beli 27 G , Ivana 30 L , Marta 27 H , Zorana 24 H , Antonija 22 L , Rade 18 G , Jo_ko 26 G , Boris 26 G , Tihomir 27 G + Igor 28 G , Hrvoje 36 G , Magda 28 H , Dra_en 41 H , Aleksander 19 G , Mladen 30 H , Marko 24 G , Davor 22 Q , Petar 23 G , Marko 28 B , Kaca 25 L + Mary 24 L , Tomislav 20 G , Ema 29 B + Nea 29 L , Nika 17 L , Boris 22 G , Kristijan 39 G , _ime 35 G , Ante 41 B , Marin 24 G , Ivan 24 G , Neno 40 G , Miro 18 L , Leonardo 34 G , Matej 18 G , Elimira 39 L + Azra 39 L , Hrvoje 31 G , Marijan 30 G + Manuel 23 G , Marija 38 L , Ivana 21 L , Ivan 27 G + Aleksandar 32 G , Marija 22 B , Josip 21 G , Toni 22 G , Toni 17 B + Ivan 18 B , Neven 27 Q , Klaudijo 29 B , Ratko 26 G , Ned_o 31 G , Miran 27 G , Rudi 22 G , Zlatko 38 G , Leon 19 G , Mate 18 G , _imun 34 G , Franko 21 G , Dalibor 23 G , Tome 26 G , Lino 22 G , Nikola 22 G , Dragana 27 L , Dean 27 G , Dra_en 26 G , Darko 40 G , Milanka 23 B , Anita 22 L , Hrvoje 28 G , Marko 21 G , Vlatko 30 G , Dane 19 G , Stipe 27 B , Danijel 29 G , Ivo 33 G , Marica 31 L , Anita 19 L , Ankica 42 L , Marko 29 G , Ivan 50 G , Milivoj 18 G , Dora 17 L , Tomislav 17 L , Tomislav 17 G , Matija 20 G , ivana 28 L , Zvonimir 34 B , Sasa 30 B , Nedeljko 30 G + Filip 28 G , Goran 19 G , Ante 30 G , Alenka 29 L , Andreja 34 L , Vinka 48 L , Gordana 41 L , Vlasta 45 L , Dado 21 G , Leona 32 L , Ana 19 L , Sini_a 26 G , Neven 29 G , Mirko 39 G , _elimir 29 G , Ivica 55 G , Livija 31 L , Valentino 22 G , Rua 47 B , _eljko 18 G , Roberto 21 G , Nikica 29 B , Nino 26 G , Mario 35 G , Marijana 40 L , Suzana 21 L , Zoran 30 L , Tamara 34 Q + Vjekoslav 38 B , Sonja 18 L , Damir 30 G , Nenad 19 B , Ivica 27 G + Mihovil 26 G , Stipe 35 G , Dora 16 L , Jole 19 G , Zdenka 46 L , Marino 32 G + Marko 24 G , Sa_a 25 G + Danijel 30 I , Monika 25 L , Viktor 40 G + Simon 27 G , Branko 33 G , Simon 27 G , Darijan 20 B + Aleksandar 19 G , Vojin 23 G + Nemanja 21 L , Franjo 17 G , Hrvoje 26 G , Ivan 24 G , Nika 26 L , Ivana 19 L , Rikard 32 G , Leo 20 B + Dominik 21 B , Dario 20 G , Maja 25 L , Robert 39 G , Alisa 23 I , Gorana 19 B , Niko 67 I , Marin 27 G , Ante 27 G , Ivana 22 B , daria 20 H , Vibor 26 H , Sa_a 26 G + Nemanja 14 G , Luka 27 B , Boris 26 G , Mario 23 G , Ivica 26 B , Lara 19 L , Morana 23 B , Zeljko 29 G , Jelena 26 L , Luciano 48 G , Vedran 30 G , Zoran 24 G , Ivan 21 G , Ozren 27 G , Denis 30 B , Ante 23 G , Tomica 22 G , David 28 G , Adi 18 G , Mladen 33 G , Fani 22 L , Katica 39 L , Maja 32 L , Nives 23 L , Marina 33 L , Mirta 25 L , Ivica 31 L , Marinko 32 G , Goran 34 G , Jelena 20 L , Mirko 51 G , _eljko 30 G , Goran 40 G , Sanja 28 L , Marko 19 G , Zvonimir 36 B , Zdravko 32 B .

April 2006 – From: Zagreb Pride Organizing Committee for 2006

Eastern European Pride in Zagreb–June 22–25, 2006

Dear friends,
Zagreb Pride Organizing Committee for 2006 has launched an initiative to (co)organize a regional Pride event in Zagreb, Croatia. We would like to use this opportunity to announce the first East European Pride, which is simultaneously the fifth Pride event taking place in Zagreb.
The Pride event will be held under the title (English / French) THE INTERNATIONALE / L’INTERNATIONALE PRIDE 2006, Zagreb – "To live freely / Pour vivre librement", or in local language(s): INTERNACIONALA PRIDE 2006., Zagreb – "_iv(j)eti slobodno".

So far, we have agreed on organizing a three-day happening (June 22 – 25), which would include a Pride Parade on June 24, 2006, the screening of Pride movies, including Pride documentaries / Pride footage from the region, a round table entitled “The freedom of assembly and Pride violence”, as well as other educational and entertaining events.
The INTERNACIONALA PRIDE 2006. aims to include:
– Participation of persons from Eastern Europe;
– Pride speeches delivered by guests from the region, especially by those individuals / organizations unable to organize Pride events in their countries due to the prevailing sociopolitical climate;
– Performances by persons from the region, i.e. guest performers representing their countries.

The organizer of the East European Pride is a Regional Committee comprising persons from the territory of ex-Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia).

Zagreb Pride Committee is made up of a group of activists assembled around the organization of Pride 2006, with the logistic support of Kontra and Queer Zagreb as well as some other organizations. This Committee provides the logistic support for the Zagreb event taking place from June 22 to June 25, 2006, including its technical organization. The Zagreb Committee deals with safety issues, fundraising, the accommodation of the participants, and is actively involved in the Regional Pride Committee. The Zagreb Pride Committee holds meetings in Zagreb every Thursday.

The Regional Committee will meet twice before the Pride event. In between the meetings the communication will be kept via the mailing list and national “field coordinators”. The first meeting of the Regional Committee was held on April 8, 2006, in Rijeka / Opatija, the Republic of Croatia. During this meeting the Committee decided on the name and the slogan for the Pride, and started working on the program.

The Pride event is envisioned as a means of drawing attention to the issue of the freedom of assembly, having in mind that out of all ex-Yugoslav states only Slovenia and Croatia have a tradition of organizing Pride events, whereas the attempt to organize such an event in Belgrade, Serbia, ended in a bloody showdown between the police and the counter-protesters, with the participants heavily beaten up.

This year’s Zagreb Pride would bring together the representatives of those countries where the sociopolitical climate is not ripe for the organization of Pride events in cities and towns, or where such a manifestation is expressly forbidden by the authorities.

Considering how there is very little time left till the event itself, and the city authorities have already been notified about the location and the timing of the event, the program will this time be drawn up solely by persons / organizations from the SEE region, having already been brought together into a regional SEEQ Network which has been active for three years. This of course does not mean that your suggestions, proposals, notifications and questions will not be taken into consideration. They will most certainly be looked into and explained, and we will do everything in our power to make you feel free, comfortable and safe in our city. We are also in the process of fundraising for the event with different funders to ensure finances for travel and accommodation.

Your presence at the Zagreb Pride would be presented as guest appearance. We are looking for several people from your organizations willing to talk about the freedom of assembly and violence directed at LGBTIQ persons, as well as about the situation in your country with the focus on attempts or actual experience with the organization of Pride events. We would also like to show footage from your Pride Days.

Especially, we wish to invite people from the following countries: Albania, Byelorussia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine, in order to draw attention to the issue of the freedom of assembly and the importance of organizing safe Pride events.

If you are interested in collaborating with us and participating in the event, please respond to us ASAP or at least by April 20, 2006. Please provide us with your and your organization / group contact.

Internacionala Pride is so far supported by:
Kontra (Zagreb)
Queer Zagreb (Zagreb)
Queer Beograd (Belgrade)
Spy (Belgrade)
Lambda (Ni_)
NLO (Novi Sad)
Labris (Belgrade)
MIKS (Zagreb)
Duga (_abac)
Organization Q (Sarajevo)
Accept (Bucharest)
Queer Bulgaria (Sofia)
Lithuanian Gay League (Vilnius)
Alliance of LGBT and their friends „Moza_ka” (Riga)
Southeastern European Queer Network (SEEQ)
All the best,
Zagreb Pride Organizing Committee

August 22, 2006 – UPI

Gay week surprises Croatian tourists

Hvar, Croatia
Tourists in Croatia’s central Adriatic Hvar Island were startled by naked men in a main square and striptease in the streets during "Gay Week," reports said.

Gay Week in the seaside resort began Monday when about 50 foreign homosexuals arrived in Hvar, the major town on the island, Zagreb’s Vecernji List newspaper reported Tuesday.

Local organizers and foreign travel agencies condemned the incidents and said they were performed by gays who were vacationing on the island, off the central Adriatic city of Split.

"The person who walked naked outside the cathedral has nothing to do with our group. Many of us are Catholics who will never do such a thing," said one of the organizers who identified himself as Eduardo.

Evelyn Birot of Paris’ Happy Gay Holidays agency said she had no disruptive incidents among her group.

January 9, 2007 – oneworld

Counselling Office for Lesbians and Bisexual Women Opens

by Tomislav Domes
Kontra opened yesterday, Monday, January 8, its counselling and advise phone line for lesbians and bisexual women. The office is staffed by trained volunteers from lesbian and bisexual women communities, who work under supervision of a psychologist. Kontra plans to also open an e-mail counselling operation.

Each lesbian and bisexual woman feels the occasional need to discuss her own life and problems she faces. The phone-line intends to provide a secure space for the women to express their problems, doubts, suspicions and questions regarding homophobia, coming out and other specific aspects of lesbian and bisexual existence.

The counselling line works on the principles of diversity, confidentiality, discretion and anonymity.

All lesbians and bisexual women that wish to learn more about the groups and associations working in their respective regions, get information on the latest events and developments on the LGBT scene, have suspicions about coming out, want to discuss domestic or relationship problems, seek support and understanding, should call 01/457-3372, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 18:00 – 20:00 hours.

July 07, 2007 –

Violence at Croatian Gay Pride march

AFP News brief – Police said they arrested eight people on Saturday after violence marred a Gay Pride march through the centre of the Croatian capital Zagreb. Organisers said more than 20 marchers had been the target of homophobic attacks. "Around 10 people were hurt, with two needing medical treatment," Marko Jurcic, one of the organisers, told AFP. Italian senator Gianpaolo Silvestri was in one of the groups attacked, but was unhurt, Jurcic said. Police said the eight arrests were for threatening behaviour towards the marchers.

"Five of them were carrying what appeared to be Molotov cocktails, but the contents of the bottles they were carrying has yet to be analysed," police spokesman Marina Burazer said. Earlier, around 200 homosexuals braved the jeers of onlookers to take part in the annual Gay Pride march through Zagreb to back demands for gay rights. The marchers were protected by almost as many police as they made their way through the city centre, jeered and taunted by around 20 youths.

The leaders of the city’s gay and lesbian association said they faced rejection, discrimination, job dismissals and physical assault in Croatia, whose population of 4.4 million is nearly 90 percent Roman Catholic. The Croatian parliament passed legislation giving limited recognition for same-sex unions in 2003.

July 18, 2007 – International Gay And Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Subject: IGLHRC and ILGA-Europe Joint Letter to the Croatian Officials

Stjepan Mesic, the President of the Republic of Croatia Ivo Sanader, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia

We are writing to alert you to a pattern of threats and violence that has occurred in the wake of the recent march organized by the lesbian, gay,bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Croatia. This recent pattern is only a part of a larger context of violence against the LGBT community in Croatia, documented by national organizations. In the interest of assuring all people in Croatia that their human rights will be protected and defended by the state, we ask that you publicly denounce homophobic violence and threats and we request that the relevant government bodies order a thorough investigation of such homophobic violence and threats in Croatia.

Since 2002, the LGBT community in Croatia, together with its supporters, has organized annual events that include a public march in Zagreb. Similar "gay pride" events are organized by LGBT people in many parts of the world as a means to claim their space in civil society and to draw attention to human rights violations often faced by this community. This exercise of free speech, assembly, and association has become a core vehicle for social change for LGBT people. Unfortunately, as in Zagreb last week, the public nature of the events can result in continuing violence and threats. While the police tried to ensure protection during the march, they failed to address complaints of violence and threats that occurred during and after the event. It is the state’s obligation to ensure that LGBT people and their supporters are protected both at the march and from continuing assaults as a result of their free expression.

The sixth annual Zagreb Pride, which took place on July 7, 2007, seems to have unleashed a rash of homophobic incidents that have continued in the week afterward. LGBT NGOs in Croatia documented and made public at least thirty such attacks on people who were recognized from the march. They include:

· Harassment at the police station: On July 7, 2007, Mitja Blazic, chairman of the Slovenian Association for the Integration of Homosexuality (DIH-Slovenia), reported a homophobic attack to the Police Station 1 in Zagreb at Strossmayerjev trg 3. He was told to wait in a room with people who openly expressed hostility toward him because of his sexual orientation. Police officers refused to record the facts as Mitja Blazic stated them and warned him and his friends not to express same-sex affection at the police station (though a heterosexual couple sitting among the homophobic group in the waiting room was not prevented from openly expressing affection).

· Physical violence and threats: On July 7, two groups of people were attacked in Zagreb; one group included Viktor Zahtila, Hrvoje Fucek, and Dalibor Stanic from the NGO Iskorak, and the other included Italian Senator Gianpaolo Silvestri, as well as Franko Dota, Marko Jurcic, and Ivan Rudic from the Zagreb Pride Organizing Committee. On July 10, Franko Dota was physically assaulted and received death threats by text message to his cell phone. During the night of July 11-12, Viktor Zahtila, a member of the NGO Iskorak, was physically assaulted in the center of Zagreb.

We are also concerned by a report that, on July 7, a group of up to 60 people wearing fascist symbols and singing "Kill Fags" went unchallenged by the police in Zagreb.

We ask not only that the relevant Croatian government bodies order an investigation into the incidents documented, but also that the police adopt policies for continued monitoring of and response to homophobic attacks that are likely to follow public, legal gatherings of LGBT people.

As an accession country to the European Union, Croatia is explicitly obligated to protect LGBT people under the EU Parliament resolutions against homophobia and the Copenhagen political criteria on the respect for human rights and protection of minorities. Beyond the formal legislative developments, Croatia should also embrace the values of the European Union, which include respect for human diversity as reflected by different sexual orientations and gender identities.
Croatia has similar obligations also as member of the Council of Europe and following recent decisions of the European Court for Human Rights, including the Court’s judgment in B?czkowski and Others v. Poland.

We call upon you as Croatia’s highest government officials to use your leadership in order to firmly condemn homophobia and the hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Paula Ettelbrick
Executive Director

Patricia Prendiville
Executive Director

The call from the Croatian colleagues of July 13, 2007 is available at

October 30, 2007 – International Herald Tribune

Croat charged with hate crime for attempting to attack gay parade

Zagreb, Croatia (The Associated Press) – Croatian prosecutors on Tuesday indicted a 25-year-old man on hate crime charges for allegedly attempting to attack a gay parade in Zagreb earlier this year. The man, identified only as Josip S., is charged with endangering lives and property by an act of hatred toward the participants of the Gay Pride parade in July, the Zagreb district prosecutors’ office said. The man is the first person in Croatia to face hate crime charges since it was introduced into the Penal Code last year. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison. No date for a trial was immediately set.

Police spotted the man as he prepared to throw homemade Molotov cocktails — bottles containing gasoline — at the parade participants gathering at Zagreb’s main square. He fled the scene, but was tracked down later at his home. Several participants and supporters of the parade were lightly injured in attacks across the town, as some remain antagonistic toward homosexuality in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

4th March 2008 – PinkNews

Lesbian group criticise police in Croatia

by staff writer
A group representing lesbians in Croatia has questioned why only one person has been prosecuted for attacking last year’s Pride parade in the capital city of Zagreb. Last week Josip Situm was convicted of endangering lives and property and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment while behind bars after being found guilty of a hate crime. Police spotted him at the Pride event in Zagreb on 7th July 2007 with petrol bombs, but he fled the scene. Ten people were injured when violence broke out at the gay Pride march in Zagreb. A gang of around 20 young men taunted and abused the Pride participants. Police arrested eight people.

Lesbian group Kontra, the Centre for Sexual and Gender Minorities Rights and the Women’s Network of Croatia issued a joint statement after his conviction. "It is evident from the judicial procedure that there was more than one perpetrator. We are wondering why other perpetrators were not convicted. In the report of the Police Headquarters of Zagreb it was stated: ‘At 12.45 am, in the passage Harmica, Croatian citizens (1988 and 1986) and a minor (1990) with no identity cards were found in possession of several bottles of flammable fluid and plastic bags with eggs and tomatoes that were supposed to serve for attack on the march participants.’"

The police brought only misdemeanour charges against those three and against others who had been physically violent towards Pride marchers The only person to face criminal charges was Situm.

"The homophobic conduct of police officers was recorded in the process of reporting of violence by Zagreb Pride participants, insulting injured parties on the basis of sexual orientation and nationality, in the case of Slovenian citizens," the groups claimed in their statement. However, such misconduct was not penalised even after the complaint was filed to the Ministry of Interior. In response the Ministry said the injured parties did not co-operate with the police and that the people that attacked them were not found. We conclude that the police have no intention of dealing with hate crimes and homophobia inside its system."

Situm was the first person convicted of a hate crime in Croatia since they became an offence under the country’s Penal Code in 2006. Despite the Croatian government granting limited partnership rights for gay and lesbian couples, homophobia remains rife in the country, which is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

Homosexuality was legalised in Croatia in 1977, and the age of consent was equalised in 1998. 300 people took to the streets of the capital in July to protest against discrimination and the physical and verbal abuse Croatian LGBT people suffer. 500 police where deployed to protect them. Croatia is not a member of the EU, but has applied to join and is regarded as likely to be admitted in 2009 or 2010. However, the homophobic attitude that pervades Croatian society is an issue for some EU officials.

June 23, 2008 – PinkNews

Catholic Church accused of delaying discrimination bill in Croatia

by Tony Grew
A leading gay advocacy group has written to government officials and MPs in Croatia expressing concern at delays in introducing a new law banning discrimination. ILGA-Europe claimed that the Roman Catholic Church is trying to prevent gender identity from being included in the proposed Combating Discrimination Bill. The group said the purpose of the new law is to fill in the gaps identified in the 2007 Progress Report on Croatia by the European Commission.

"The European Court of Justice has held that the scope of the principle of equal treatment for men and women cannot be confined to the prohibition of discrimination based on the fact that a person is of one or other sex but also applies to discrimination arising from the gender reassignment of a person," ILGA-Europe said in a letter to supporters. Transgender persons face discrimination and violence due to their gender identity in everyday life. They are often denied right to healthcare, right to work, right to life without violence and other basic human rights. It is an obligation of the State to protect all citizens equally against discrimination."

Despite the Croatian government granting limited partnership rights for gay and lesbian couples, homophobia remains rife in the country, which is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Homosexuality was legalised in Croatia in 1977, and the age of consent was equalised in 1998. Croatia is not a member of the EU, but has applied to join and is regarded as likely to be admitted in 2009 or 2010. However, the homophobic attitude that pervades Croatian society is an issue for some EU officials.

February 2009 –

Croatian Conference: HIV Surveillance in Hard to Reach Populations, September 2009

HIV Surveillance in Hard to Reach Populations

Hard to reach populations such as injecting drug users (IDUs), men who have sex with men (MSM), and commercial sex workers (CSWs) are at the highest risk of HIV infection due to their specific social and behavioural characteristics. In the countries with low-level and concentrated HIV epidemic, these populations account for most HIV infections and are also called “core groups” for HIV transmission. The most demanding task in surveillance of these groups is in reaching them. Because of stigma, discrimination and often illicit nature of their behaviours, they are difficult to reach and standard probabilistic sampling methods such as cluster-based sampling cannot be used. That is why another, recently used sampling methods such as respondent-driven sampling and time-location sampling are recommended to be used. Achieving a high quality sample allows us to monitor trends of the epidemic over time, and compare results across different geographical areas of the country. Surveillance of HIV in high-risk groups is challenging but immensely important, and it is the main component of HIV/AIDS surveillance in low-level and concentrated epidemics. High-quality surveillance in these groups and its links with the system of monitoring and evaluation enables programmatic responses to be cost-effective and well-targeted.

Learning objectives
The aim of this course is to provide skills in designing and implementing surveillance surveys in hard to reach populations, with an emphasis on men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and commercial sex workers. Focus of the course is on gaining practical skills which is achieved through interactive sessions on protocol development. Participants will be presented with the main methodological tasks and challenges related to surveying hard to reach populations, ranging from issues on how to choose an adequate sampling method to interpreting and disseminating data collected.

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May 28, 2009 – Zagreb Pride

Zagreb Pride 2009 will take place from June 10 to 13 June. The Pride March and concert will take place on Saturday, June 13.

We would like to use this opportunity to invite you all to participate and support Zagreb Pride 2009. Pride events serve as a public gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transexual and intersex (LGBTIQ) persons, and as such represent a gathering of utmost political and social importance. Your presence would encourage South-Eastern European LGBTIQ community to fight for our rights and as well give a strong impact to Croatian institutions, political organizations and public to advocate and/or support LGBTIQ rights.

Values that Zagreb Pride promotes are:  equality, diversity, peace/anti-militarism, preservation of nature and laicism. These values stem from a queer-feminist platform in combating sexism and homo/bi/transphobia. Our political platform For more activities of Zagreb Pride 2009 please check out our program

We – lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, intersexual and queer individuals — consider Zagreb to be our city, a place in which we live and want to live and participate in all forms of social life. That is why we have taken part in the Pride Parade for the last eights year in a row. Zagreb Pride has become a vital part of Zagreb, but Zagreb has not completely become the open city that we want to build together with all our fellow citizens.

We shall be relentless in our struggle and with our demands until there is full equality for all and emancipation of all people in this society, until there is not one LGBTIQ person who is exposed to violence, discrimination, humiliation and non-acceptance. We are convinced that one day, in not so far future, we shall establish these values as well as a society of tolerance, acceptance and participation. That we shall live in a city open to all its inhabitants regardless of differences in gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. Making these values a part of our everyday lives will make us better people, and our city and our society a better city and a better society.

In Zagreb there are tens of thousands of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, intersexual and queer individuals who work, get educated, pay city taxes, go out, socialize, love, make families and once a year are a part of Zagreb Pride… We are neighbours, colleagues from work, from schools and from universities. We are members of families, we are parents, daughters, sons and friends. Despite that, our love has been degraded for too long, our rights ignored and broken, our dignity stomped on, our freedom threatened. We broke this silence with the first Zagreb Pride in 2002. And we keep breaking it symbolically every year by joining the Pride March, with continuous public support for our rights.

Even now, we still meet homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, violence and discrimination of all forms in all levels of our lives:

* when mothers and fathers of LGBT individuals find out about their identities sometimes act fiercely and throw their children out of their homes, deny them financial and emotional support: that is not parental love, it is domestic violence
* some of our friends denounce or avoid us, homophobes and violent individuals beat us up in the streets, insult us and put us down: that is not a sign of an open society, it is social violence
* some institutions stigmatize us, and even hospitalize us as patients, while schools have not yet recognized the importance of having a comprehensive sexual education that is democratic and not connected to religion: these are not attributes of responsible institutions, it is institutionalized violence and discrimination

Only when our families are a part of our lives, our fellow citizens free from the effects of hate speech and intolerance, our institutions open for our needs as well as anyone else’s, only then will Zagreb be an open city. We invite all LGBTIQ individuals, our families, friends, colleagues, city institutions, bearers of political authority in Zagreb to join our fight and support our demands, to participate in Zagreb Pride, to join us in the Pride March and feel what it means to be a LGBTIQ person in Zagreb and in Croatia. By participating, we are building a better and a more just society. We build together Zagreb as a more open city.

In solidarity,

Zagreb Pride Organizing Commmittee:
Karla Horvat Crnogaj, Sara Ercegović, Marina Matešić, Lana, Gordana Tihomirović, Franko Dota, Marin Je