Split, Croatia(Reuters) – Hundreds of people in the Croatian city of Split marched in a Gay Pride parade held on Saturday under heavy security to avoid a repeat of last year’s violence.
About 500 people, including some government ministers, took part in the march, police said, with around 900 policemen patrolling it.
Participants said this year’s event was an important test of democracy and human rights protection in the country due to join the European Union on July 1, 2013.
The EU’s delegation in Croatia said earlier this week it would be watching events in the Adriatic city carefully.
“We have to be here to show that we’re the country where the laws are respected and that we will not allow violence or discrimination based on racial or ethnic grounds, on choice of life style or any orientation,” Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said.
Last year, when the event was held in Split for the first time, angry locals pelted the marchers with eggs and rocks. Around a dozen people were injured and some 100 arrested.
Several radical nationalist groups have issued warnings against this year’s march, calling it a “shameful provocation by sick people to which we will respond”.
Similar marches have been held for a decade in the capital Zagreb under heavy police protection, with a relatively few incidents. Another march is scheduled in Zagreb next weekend.
by Antonio Bronic
Source – Reuters