Gay Croatia News & Reports 2010-11

1 European Parliament says candidate countries must offer gays protection 2/10

2 Zagreb Pride Against Homophobia and Transphobia 5/10

3 ‘Croatia Can Accept It’ 5/10

4 Split Gay Pride Abandoned Amid Riots 5/11

5 Unsafe Gay Pride Event in Split Casts …6/11

5a A Refracted Rainbow 6/11

6 Police Protect Gay Pride Rallies Across Balkans 6/11

7 Homophobic protest lays bare split within Croatian society 6/11

8 Enough Homophobia! Campaign Launched 10/11

February 12, 2010 – PinkNews

European Parliament says candidate countries must offer gays protection

by Staff Writer,
The European Parliament has said that Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey must prove they can offer "genuine protection" to gay people in order to join the European Union.
The three countries have been criticised for their records on LGBT rights and reports given to the European Parliament reminded the candidates that protections such as anti-discrimination laws were "non-negotiable".

Croatia was criticised for its 2009 de facto ban on Zagreb Pride and the government’s failure to implement anti-discrimination laws. In Turkey, the country’s penal code raised concerns for "allowing for the systematic persecution" of gay, bisexual and trans people, while Macedonia was told to cover sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination laws.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said "I am happy that our amendments in favour of LGBT rights in the progress reports for Macedonia and Croatia were adopted by the European Parliament. We have reaffirmed that anti-discrimination standards must apply in candidate countries."

Michael Cashman MEP, Ms Lunacek’s co-president, added: "Accession criteria are crystal clear: minorities must be protected from discrimination as laid out in Article 19 of the Treaty – and that includes sexual orientation. "This is not an à la carte menu: it is at the core of the European Union, and we will be rigorous in its application."

May 16, 2010 – Zagreb Pride

Zagreb Pride Against Homophobia and Transphobia
–Including he first coming out in the media with the "Fuck You“ video.

The International day of fighting against homophobia and transphobia (IDAHO) is being celebrated around the world on May the 17th. Zagreb Pride included the Croatian LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual and queer people) community in a fight against hate and intolerance. Around thirty young gays and lesbians, their straight friends and some of our supporters are, for the first time in Croatia, a part of a mass coming out (publicly expressing sexual and gender identities) in a Croatian version of the British singer Lily Allen’s ‘Fuck You’ video.

The song ‘Fuck You’ (2008) is politically engaged which openly and directly deals with homophobia and transphobia. Young memebers of the world LGBTIQ community (from Hungary, France, Mexico, Brasil…) encouraged and created a few amateur videos and posted them online. By talking to people from the Zagreb LGBTIQ community we discovered that there is a wish to make a croatian version of the video. Zagreb Pride decided to take the initiative. A lot of people joined in the making of the video. The participants chose the venues themselves (in the street, in their apartment, in the office, at college…), they expressed and presented themselves as they pleased.

This video is an indicator that our LGBTIQ community has no more business ‘begging’ for our rights, but is ready to fight for them publicly and loudly. Young gays and lesbians are the children of the 21st century and the only thing that bothers them is that homophobia is present in the society they live in. Zagreb Pride once again proves that the power of togetherness, courage and determination is what will contribute to the change of our society. We want a better society, a society that includes more freedom. The future is ours to take.

The importance of recording a Coatian version of the ‘Fuck You’ video is about including the LGBTIQ community in our programs because their support is crucial for the changes we are after. Also, it will be educational for members of our society to see young people that could be their children, friends or neighbors and to realize that these people were/are victims of homophobia and transphobia. The message of the song goes out to bullies and haters, and it clearly states a big, courageous and clear fuck you.

The video can be watched and downloaded on YouTube

For those who are interested we can send a copy on a high quality DVD. Any kind of presentation and distribution of this video is allowed by the author.

Zagreb Pride,


Organization Zagreb Pride is a queer-feminist, antifascist, non-hierarchical, non-commercial and volunteer-based group that advocates LGBTIQ solidarity and opposes to violence and discrimination of LGBTIQ individuals.

May 24, 2010 – Croatia 9th Gay Pride Festival 2010 – June 19, 2010

‘Croatia Can Accept It’: Freedom of sexual expression and the variety of sexual practices

The freedom of sexual expression, the variety of physical and sexual manifestations and practices, the multiplicity of personal and collective identities made through self-definition should become and will become a part of the Croatian reality. To fight for gender freedom – the right of every person to express their gender and their body in a way they themselves have chosen, through femininity, androgyny, masculinity, hybridity, non-expressiveness and gender contradictory – means to fight for freedom as a supreme value that belongs to every individual. Zagreb Pride is standing daily and actively against every kind of limitation and inhibition considering our bodies and the multitude of our genders.

In Croatia the only place where people can be free and freed gender-wise is the LGBTIQ Pride March. We, in Zagreb Pride, consider every individual to have the right to define one’s own personal identity, to publicly express it and expect society to respect and accept it.

Human beings frequently have a relationship with their own bodies beyond what is allowed by society’s repressive norms of physical appearance and expression of self through the body. This means some people among us are not exclusively focused on a choice of partner based only on two genders. They can comprehend and live a more vast reality of their bodies and sexuality, far from the oppressive and habitual concepts of homosexuality or heterosexuality, sex being the category which the human experience of body and sexuality are reduced to when choosing a lover or a partner.

Sexual and gender stereotypes are powerful tools for controlling our freedom and for pushing us into cramped categories like man/woman, gay/straight, single/coupled, single/married, normal/abnormal, ordinary/weird. We LGBTIQ (lesbians, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, inter-sexual and queer) individuals strive to break through and smash oppressive gender and sex boundaries with our practices and activist interventions, by building a society free of prejudiced categories.

When two people express themselves and their sexuality in terms of kissing in a bar or club, if they conform to the habitual patterns of the allowed heterosexual behaviour, they are accepted, supported or stay unnoticed. When we, LGBTIQ individuals, behave in the same manner, but have a non stereotypical appearance or bodies, we are rejected, violently interrupted, reproached, and often enough beaten. Zagreb Pride wants every wanted kiss, hug and touch to be an expression of freedom and love always and everywhere.

A hug or kiss between two men is allowed on the football ground or stands, while celebrating victory. When two gay men express affection for each other, they put their lives at risk. When a group of young men and women sunbathe, play ball, put sun screen on each others’ backs, no-one sees anything peculiar, only youngsters displaying affection and seduction.

But when a group of women on a beach openly express that they are lesbians, they are subjected to sexist and chauvinist attacks and risks of sexual assault, or even rape. When a transgendered or transsexual individual is required to show ID by government regulations, the only document allowed has the gender identity referred to at birth. The most common reaction is ridicule, contempt and often enough – disgust. These individuals are being forcibly pushed to the brinks of society. Zagreb Pride protects and will always protect every kiss.

The freedom of expressing gender diversity and the multitude of sexual practices are not a threat to anyone, just by existing we are exposed to discrimination and violence. We have the exclusive right to make our own decisions regarding our bodies and no ideological, political, law, medicine or religion norm should disregard the integrity of our bodies against our will and prevent us from doing what we want with our own bodies.

Zagreb Pride will make the 9th Pride March a day of celebration and affirmation of freedom in all its forms. Let us celebrate the freedom of gender and sexual expression on the 19th of June. Let us celebrate the countless genders, the multitude and richness of all the body’s expressions. Let us celebrate the freedom of sexual practices of all people.

June 11, 2011 – UK Gay News

Split Gay Pride Abandoned Amid Riots by 10,000 Anti-Gay Protesters
– Trouble flares 24 hours after Brussels OKs Croatian membership of EU

From a special correspondent
Split – Thugs and extremists, many throwing stones, firecrackers, eggs, and bottles, brought an end this afternoon to the first Gay Pride to be staged in the port city of Split, southern Croatia. Nearly 300 joined the Parade. But they were faced by an estimated 10,000 protesters. The trouble came 24 hours after the European Union announced that Croatia would be able to join the EU in 2013 – and the Croatian government pledging to protect human rights.

State television is reporting this evening that “dozens” have been arrested and “several” injuries have been reported. By a spokesperson for the Split police has said that 300 had been arrested, with 81 charged with public disorder. Five people had been hospitalised at 4pm, officials reported. Several journalists are said to be among those injured. The almost 300 participants in the Pride March were escorted by two hundred policemen. But they, and the riot police with tear gas, could do little to prevent trouble.

Continual shouts of “kill the fags”, “we are Croats” and “kill the queers – Serb kills” were directed at march participants who were also subjected to having an assortment of missiles thrown at them. The attacks in Split this afternoon came shortly after the visit to Croatia by the Pope. The theme of the visit was supporting the Catholic family. Several Croatian bishops have condemned what they call “unnatural families” Activist Sanja Juras from the Kontra gay association told Slobodna Dalmacija: “Unfortunately, the police should go to a course on how to protect a parade”.

Reuters is reporting that there were four journalists were among the dozen injured.

June 13, 2011 – Uk Gay News

Unsafe Gay Pride Event in Split Casts Shadow Over Croatia’s EU Accession Prospects
– Pregnant Dutch MEP among Pride parade participants

Brussels – A pregnant Dutch MEP was among the estimated 300 participants in the first-ever Gay Pride to be staged in the southern Croatia post city of Split on Saturday. The Pride parade came to an abrupt end when it was confronted by up to 10,000 protesters who threw missiles and tear gas at Pride participants. Marije Cornelissen (Greens/EFA, Netherlands), faced hateful shouts such as “Kill the faggots”, and arrays of Nazi salutes. She reported that the police failed to keep the protestors at a safe distance from marchers, and projectiles hit at least six people. Initial reports point to police forces being unprepared, and implicitly helping protesters by purposely letting them close to participants.

The events on Saturday took place a day after José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, announced he would propose that the EU and Croatia conclude accession talks, with a view for the Western Balkan Republic to join the European Union by July 2013. This accession requires that Croatia be declared level with EU standards in several areas, including fundamental rights and the protection of minorities. “I never expected that it would go this wrong,” Marije Cornelissen MEP told UK Gay News this morning. “The violence in Split shows that Croatia still has a lot to do to properly protect human rights. I hope that the authorities realise that until they actually join in 2013, they must join forces with LGBT organisations to firmly combat homophobia in Croatia.”

Ulrike Lunacek, MEP (Greens/EFA, Austria) and co-president of the European Parliament’s all-party Intergroup on LGBT Rights added: “[The] outbreak of homophobic hatred and violence shows that European values – including freedom of assembly and the protection of all minorities – are not yet fully at home in a country two years away from joining the EU. “Therefore, it will be necessary that before the end of negotiations, there is an agreement between government, parliament and civil society organisations over a concrete and transparent monitoring mechanism for the provision of justice and the protection of fundamental rights,” she added.

The Intergroup on LGBT Rights said that it will ask the European Commission how these events in Split on Saturday reflect on current accession talks. Report say that the police failed to adequately protect Split Pride participants; at least six activists and journalists were taken to the hospital after stones, ashtrays and other hard projectiles were thrown at them.

Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor have both condemned the violence. Mr. Josipovic said incidents in Split were not the “real face” of Croatia and they show that there still exist some “non-European” parts of society, Radio Free Europe reported at the weekend. And according to Balkan Insight, former Croatian Minister of Interior, Sime Lucin, said that police did not heed the warnings that abounded in the weeks leading up to the parade, such as anti-gay graffiti and hateful messages on the internet.

The Croatian news Website Daily T Portal reported today that the Dutch Ambassador to Croatia, Stella Ronner-Grubacic, had “labelled incidents at the [Gay Pride]parade as violations of fundamental human rights” and that “she would ask her government to recommend the monitoring of the reform processes in Croatia”. And Daljie, reporting on an anti-gay group on the social network site Facebook, said that members were “low life”. The Website quoted a handful of the Facebook comments, in graphic detail.

June 13, 2011 – Human Rights First

A Refracted Rainbow
: Attacks and Bans on Gay Pride Parades (Updated)

by Fighting Discrimination Program
As we enter the “Pride Season,” with LGBTI events planned across the globe, we’ll update this page with news from gay pride marches threatened by private violent acts and state restrictions.

Split: Gay Pride Under Attack (c) Vojko Bašic/CROPIX
(6/23/11) In Saint Petersburg, Russia, city officials denied a permit for a Slavic Gay Pride event. Meanwhile, in Moscow, police detained more than a dozen people, mostly women, holding solo pickets and distributing leaflets in support of gay rights. The Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Kostyuchenko, who made headlines by coming out as lesbian in May, was among the detained activists.

(6/12/11) In Split, Croatia, thousands of ultranationalist supporters gathered to protest the town’s first gay pride on June 12. Counterdemonstrators quickly overpowered the police, throwing rocks, firecrackers, bottles, and trash at the marchers. While the police created a buffer zone to protect the marchers, the organizers felt this was not enough to prevent violence, which left five people injured. At least one hundred counterdemonstrators were detained in Split. Croatia’s President and Prime Minister condemned the violence in Split, which came only a day after the country received a final approval for its entry into the European Union in 2013. A further investigation into the attacks has begun. On June 18, a second Croatian pride parade was held in Zagreb. Over 2,000 people attended and no incidents of violence were reported.

(6/11/11) In Warsaw, Poland, the police worked to protect the pride demonstration on June 11. Counterdemonstrators tried to throw firecrackers and shouted antigay slurs, which did not stop the parade. Last year, the police similarly had to intervene to protect the marchers in the city that has a decade-long history with gay pride events (including two episodes when the parade was banned in 2004 and 2005, in violation of three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights).

(5/28/11) In Moscow, Russia, the authorities denied permission for a Moscow gay pride event for the sixth consecutive year in May. City officials cited numerous letters from public officials, religious organizations and private citizens urging the authorities to prohibit a demonstration. Similar bans were pronounced illegal by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in October 2010. On May 28, a small gay rights demonstration was attacked, leaving several injured, by a crowd of ultranationalist / Orthodox / neo-Nazi supporters. The attackers were not found; instead, the police detained thirty demonstrators who rallied for gay rights in Russia.

Why Pride Parades?
Gay pride parades offer an opportunity for many LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) individuals to exercise the right to freedom of expression. First organized in New York City in commemoration of the Stonewall riots, pride parades have come to symbolize the resistance to intolerance and bigotry that surround LGBTI people in their daily lives.

Some governments continue restricting peaceful demonstrations by denying permits to organizers of pride marches. While such restrictions are damaging and unacceptable, the authorities have a positive obligation to protect those who exercise their right to free assembly. Thus, LGBTI individuals’ legal right to organize pride events must not be either hindered by government officials or impeded by violent attacks of private individuals.

Despite significant improvements over the past decade, we continue to witness both restrictions and violent attacks on pride parades. Gay pride parades and events, particularly in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union have resulted in political diatribes attacking people of minority sexual orientations from political and other leaders, inadequate police protection, and acts of harassment and violence against the participants. Police is often the difference-maker when counterdemonstrations gather to protest against the pride marches.

June 18, 2011 – NPR

Police Protect Gay Pride Rallies Across Balkans

by AP
Sofia, Bulgaria – Gays and lesbians marched in several Eastern European capitals Saturday protected by hundreds of riot police after some extremist groups urged members to stop the Gay Pride rallies. Nearly 1,000 people joined the fourth Gay Pride rally in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, organizers said. Twice as many paraded through the Croatian capital of Zagreb under rainbow arches of balloons and banners for that city’s 10th Gay Pride march. Hungarian gay rights activists also took to the streets in Budapest, flanked by police in full riot gear.

Gays and lesbians face widespread hostility in the region’s macho-dominated societies, and opposition to their public events has been fierce. "I am here because I am tired of being afraid," Deya Georgieva, 19, said in Sofia. "It is really ridiculous that in a country pretending to be European its citizens are denied some basic rights." Police spokesman Krunoslav Borovec said 2,000 people marched through central Zagreb, protected by more than 700 policemen. Police detained 17 people for insulting the marchers and holding anti-gay banners. Some prominent public figures joined the Zagreb parade, which was dubbed "The Future is Ours." The Zagreb rally came a week after thousands of extremists disrupted a gay pride event in the coastal city of Split, throwing rocks, bottles and firecrackers.

Croatia, which has pledged to protect human rights as part of efforts to join the European Union, provided extensive security for Saturday’s rally. After years of tough negotiations, EU officials said earlier this month that Croatia could join the 27-nation bloc in 2013. Due to extremist violence during previous gay rights parades, Sofia city hall rejected an anti-gay group’s demand to hold a parallel rally. Gay Pride organizers, however, said extremists used social networks to drum up resistance.

Guarded by hundreds of police and private security, the mostly young marchers walked peacefully through downtown Sofia displaying colorful banners calling for love, equality and sexual diversity. "We are here because we exist" read one banner. "Be aware whom you hate, because it could be someone you love" proclaimed another.

Gays in Bulgaria face widespread hostility despite a 2003 anti-discrimination law that protects their rights. One young man said his parents were unaware of his sexual orientation. "They belong to another generation, and for them the issue is taboo," said 18-year-old Nikolay, who would not give his last name for fear of discrimination.

On Friday, the United Nations issued its first condemnation of discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people in a cautiously worded declaration. The resolution was hailed by supporters, including the United States, as a historic moment but decried by some African and Muslim countries for introducing ideas that "have no legal foundation."

June 29, 2011 – Irish Times

Homophobic protest lays bare split within Croatian society

Split Letter: An ugly incident showed the less attractive side of Croatia as it made its final push for EU approval, writes Daniel McLaughlin. It’s Easy to see why the people of Split are proud of Riva, the palm tree-lined promenade that runs along the waterfront of Croatia’s second city. This is where Split kisses the turquoise Adriatic, blue-and-white ferries glide out towards sun- drenched islands and the hum of talk and clink of drinks drift from cafes beside the cool walls of Diocletian’s Palace, where the Roman emperor spent his retirement. The European Union’s declaration this month that it would finally admit Croatia in 2013 caused no great excitement here. Split already feels quintessentially European and, with the arching of an eyebrow, its more urbane residents imply that the fractious club will be lucky to have them.

Split showed the world a very different face a fortnight earlier, however, when riot police replaced tourists on Riva and tear gas overcame the usual smell of coffee, cigarettes and the sea.

“It was incredibly scary,” said Sanja Juras of the Kontra group that helped organise Split’s first gay parade. “There was a huge crowd shouting ‘Kill the faggots’ and ‘You must die’ and giving Nazi salutes. They were throwing big rocks, ashtrays and firecrackers at us. Some people had to be taken to hospital by ambulance. The police completely failed to protect us. We were trapped for 45 minutes between this mob and the police. We asked them to evacuate us but they didn’t do anything. We didn’t know what would happen to us. There had been graffiti and threats made against the parade, but the city authorities made clear they didn’t support us and they didn’t use their powers to protect us.”

Some 10,000 people came out to protest against the 200-strong gay parade; more than 130 people were arrested and about a dozen were injured. As Croatia made its final push for EU approval after six years of faltering talks, this was not an image that the government in Zagreb wanted to project. “I never expected that it would go this wrong,” said Dutch MEP Marije Cornelissen, who attended the gay march. “The violence in Split shows that Croatia still has a lot to do to properly protect human rights. I hope that the authorities realise that until they actually join in 2013, they must join forces with LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] organisations to firmly combat homophobia in Croatia.”

Juras said the clashes gave “a clear picture that homophobia exists here and is in state institutions”. “Some anti-discrimination legislation has been introduced in the past few years – most of it under EU pressure – but not much of it is implemented,” she added. Many residents of Split were horrified by the attacks, which ran counter to the way they think of their city as a sophisticated, liberal and laid-back place. Some of them insisted that the protesters could not be real Split natives, but relatively recent arrivals from the hinterland where jobs are scarce, poverty is deep and Catholicism is extremely conservative.

Most of them live in grim tower blocks far from Riva’s polished white flagstones. “There is definitely part of our society that is not always willing to accept different people and views,” Croatian president Ivo Josipovic told The Irish Times . “There is nothing positive about this incident. But it is good that the police are now accusing and prosecuting an important number of people over what happened and that the media is discussing it as something that is not proper, is anti-European and is the ugly face of our society.” Josipovic added: “What happened in Split was shameful, but this kind of problem is not just Croatian – it is a European problem that we must tackle together.”

Gay activists say they want more support from Croatia’s politicians, none of whom took up invitations to attend the Split parade. They also want the people who attacked the march to be convicted of violent crimes rather than slapped on the wrists for minor misdemeanours. “We want to see if all those who were throwing things and shouting ‘Kill faggots’ and giving Nazi salutes will be tried. There is lots of footage of them. If not we will take legal action against the mayor of Split and the local police chief,” Juras said. A week after the violence in Split, about 1,000 people took part in a peaceful – and heavily guarded – gay parade through Zagreb, which has held 10 such events.

“It’s not just a case of, ‘If Zagreb goes well then everything is fine’,” Juras said. “Our basic human rights are not protected here and the EU should not let Croatia join until that changes.”

28 October2011 – One World See

Enough Homophobia! Campaign Launched

Dosta homofobije – Last week, the Centre for LGBT Equality, in cooperation with the Centre for Peace Studies, launched the big anti-homophobia campaign “Enough with the Homophobia”, with participation of persons from public and social life and members of LGBT population in Croatia. The campaign will be concluded on November 24, 2011. The campaign activities will cover three different media types – posters and billboards, video ad and radio jingle – and its concept will warn not just against homophobia, but all forms of violence.

Campaign billboards depicting public personalities mixed with members of the LGBT population were posted in prominent locations in Zagreb, Samobor, Osijek and Split. The campaign was launched amidst the ongoing election campaign by design, to inform the general population that homophobia and restrictions to expression of one’s identity represent a wider political problem. The whole course of the campaign, complete with teasers (video interviews and reports) and all related news are available on the portal.