Thursday, 30 April 2020

Rainbow Families NGO Calls for Inclusive Laws

ZAGREB, April 30, 2020 - President Zoran Milanović on Wednesday received a delegation of the Rainbow Families association, who informed him of the association's activities geared towards ensuring that all laws in Croatia are non-discriminatory and inclusive for all citizens, in line with the Constitution.

The representatives of this non-governmental organisation, which brings together same-sex partners, welcomed a decision by the Constitutional Court on the Foster Care Act under which life partners can also become foster parents.

They stressed that it was important that the Foster Care Act itself was amended in line with the Constitutional Court decision, the Office of the President said in a statement.

They warned that the current Family Act and the Act on Medically Assisted Reproduction put life partners in an unequal position in relation to other citizens, noting that they expect a debate to be launched on those laws and their alignment with constitutional values.

"We are not seeking greater rights, we just want Croatia to be a society of equals," the association said.

President Milanović said that the decision by the Constitutional Court was good because everyone should be equal before the law and he supported the association in its promotion of the equality of all Croatian citizens, the Office of the President said.

More news about Zoran Milanović can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Police to Carry Out Probe Into Burning of Gay Couple Effigy at Imotski Carnival

ZAGREB, February 27, 2020 - The Split Municipal Prosecutor's Office has instructed the police to collect information concerning a criminal complaint Social Democrat MP Arsen Bauk filed against the organisers of a carnival procession in Imotski, where an effigy of a gay couple was set on fire this past weekend.

The effigy of a gay couple holding a "child" - SDP MP Nenad Stazić, with a five-pointed star on his forehead - was burned at the traditional carnival procession in Imotski last Sunday.

The criminal complaint against the organisers of the procession, the Bakove Svečanosti association, which is headed by Milivoj Djuka, was filed by SDP MP Bauk with the local police on Monday.

Sources at the Split prosecutor's office told Hina that police were expected to carry out a preliminary investigation and take other measures to collect information for a decision on the complaint while the prosecutor's office will make a decision within its remit once it receives the information requested.

More news about LGBT rights can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Government Condemns Burning of Effigy of Same-Sex Couple with Child

ZAGREB, February 24, 2020 - The government on Monday condemned the burning of an effigy of a same-sex couple with a child during carnival in the southern town of Imotski, saying that "judging" minorities in Croatian society is not in the carnival spirit or satire nor is it traditional, entertaining or in the spirit of Croatian and European values.

"The tradition of burning the carnival effigy usually consisted of a sort of humorous and mocking criticism of various events in Croatian society. That sort of carnival spirit can remain within the boundaries of satire when it 'judges' someone in power like the president, the prime minister, a mayor or some other politician, but by no means those who represent various minorities in Croatian society. That is not traditional, nor entertaining nor in the spirit of Croatian and European values. As such, we condemn that act," the government said.

Our approach is that we oppose any form of hate speech and aggression - political, ideological, verbal and physical - just like any other act that offends the feelings of the Croatian people and contributes to divisions in society, the government said in a response to Hina's query sent by spokesman Marko Milić.

A majority of parliamentary parties condemned the Imotski incident.

Social Welfare Minister Vesna Bedeković on Monday strongly condemned the burning of an effigy representing a same-sex couple with a child during the carnival in the southern town of Imotski, saying she acknowledged carnival traditions across Croatia but that this event was neither funny nor entertaining.

"I strongly condemn every form of hate speech. Building Croatia as an inclusive and tolerant society has no alternative. Therefore, I condemn this act which is not in the spirit of Croatian and European values," the minister said in a press release in connection with Sunday's incident.

More news about LGBT rights can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Croatia Gay Effigy Condemned: MP Files Criminal Charges Against Carnival

February 24, 2020 - MP Arsen Bauk SDP (Social Democratic Party) of Croatia has announced that he will file a criminal complaint against the organizers of the "Bakova povorka", which took place in the town of Imotski, at the local police station for burning an effigy of a gay couple. Zoran Milanović, President of Croatia, has demanded an apology from organizers and an appropriate response from the relevant legal institutions.

Numerous comments have appeared on social networks condemning the Imotski carnival (Bakova povorka), where an effigy of a same-sex couple holding a child was burned at the ceremony to widespread cheers. The child was presented in the form of SDP MP Nenad Stazić with a five-pointed star (Yugoslavia) on his forehead, according to Ana Roksandić/RTL Dnevnik on February 24, 2020.

Bauk to File Complaint Under Article 325 Croatia Criminal Code

Arsen Bauk has announced that he will file a criminal complaint against Milivoj Đuka, the organizer of the carnival parade, at the Imotski Police Station on Monday for the offense noted under Article 325 of the Criminal Code of Croatia.

There is a tradition of masks in Dalmatia, in which the people normally express their dissatisfaction with powerful political and social figures. However, the lynching of minority groups runs contrary to that tradition.

Croatia President Demands Appropriate Response for Shameful Event

Croatia President Zoran Milanović also responded to the "shameful event" on Monday morning.

"The symbolic burning of same-sex partners with a foster child in Imotski is a sad, inhumane and totally unacceptable act in the guise of the 'Bakova povorka' festivities. The organizers who staged this shameful event, in the name of tradition, deserve the strongest public condemnation because of the hatred they have demonstrated toward for others. Intolerance and inhumanity are not and will not be a Croatian tradition. I am seeking their public apology and the approptiate response reaction from the relevant institutions, especially as many children watched this event, thus witnessing the spread of hatred and inciting violence," he wrote on Facebook.

Former Croatia Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor reacted on Twitter:


"These arsonists in Imotski would set fire to all of us who are different for various reasons. They have no mercy on others because they have neither love nor hearts and do not care what kind of people they are. And the minister is still incompetent," she wrote yesterday.

MP Bojan Glavašević also took to social networks to defend a same-sex couple, Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić, who want to adopt children.


Croatia Gay Couple More Patriotic Than Imotski ‘Arsonists’

“Mladen and Ivo are more patriotic, more courageous, and more of a (positive) example for the future of Croatia than those who burned their characters, and the character of the child they wish to provide a home for. Change is what all these "arsonists" are truly afraid of. And change is coming. Within it, Mladen and Ivo will find happiness, not the arsonists,” he wrote in a Twitter post.


Kožić: 'I fear for all our friends who are already living with children in Croatia'

Mladen Kožić spoke to Hrvoje Krešić/N1 on Monday:

"This time I feel bad not only for myself, I am not afraid for either Ivo or myself, I fear for all our friends who are already living with children in Croatia," Kožić said.

"We know two fathers with a daughter in our first neighborhood and I feel bad for them because I cannot imagine how it must be for them now, and how they will explain to their children what exactly has happened," he added.


"Fortunately, there are no other problems in Imotski other than same-sex marriage and adoption of children, people are living so well there that all the gastarbeiters from this white world are packing and returning to their native Imotski, the people in Imotski have it so good, so good !!!", one Twitter user observed sarcastically. Milivoj Đuka, the parade's organizer, spoke to Dnevnik/HRT about the mass exodus from his hometown on June 21, 2015. 

Interview with Đuka begins at 1:05.

Young Croatians Fleeing Imotski, Living Among Same Sex Couples Abroad

Thousands of young Croatians are fleeing to countries like Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Austria where gay marriage and adoption are legal, and are living among openly gay and lesbian couples with children.

Another user emphasized that, according to carnival tradition, culprits should be burned for adverse behavior, not for adopting a child.


“According to tradition the carnival is traditionally an event to set fire to the culprit for all the troubles of the past year, not an adopted child.

My Imotski. Shame on you,” the user responded.

Act of hate speech?

Another user wondered if the gay couple effigy burning at the Imotski carnival was an act of hate speech.


“Imotski 2020. They are still laughing when these alternative families of Rainbow colors fall into shambles. Isn't this hate speech?” the Twitter user asked.

The effigy of the gay couple is set on fire at 1:41:15 | Boško Ćosić Photography

See yesterday's Total Croatia News article about the effigy burning here. Follow our Politics page, Lifestyle page and this page for updates on this story and the state of LGBT rights in Croatia.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Croatia Town Burns Gay Couple Effigy at Parade: Imotski Residents Cheer

February 23, 2020 - Bakova povorka, the pinnacle of a 150-year tradition of carnival festivities in Imotski, Croatia was engulfed by scandal on Sunday afternoon when enthusiastic residents set fire to an effigy of a gay couple to widespread cheers.

Adopted Child Had Yugoslav Star on Forehead

Imotski residents chose to feature a gay couple with an adopted child, which had a five-pointed star on his forehead (resembling that of the Yugoslav flag) for the central carnival figure. They eventually set that effigy on fire and burned it to the ground to the cheers of onlookers.

“Like it or not, but this is abnormal for us, but everyone has the right to be whatever they want,” they proclaimed to onlookers.


It’s also worth noting that the child doll, with the five-pointed star on his forehead and being held by the effigy of the gay couple, had the face of SDP (Social Democratic Party) MP Nenad Stazić. Earlier this year, it Stazić lent his support to same sex couples wishing to be foster parents. He also indicated that children were more at risk in the company of pedophile priests than under the care of openly gay foster parents. The effigy of the gay couple was followed by a group of children from the local kindergarten in the parade.


‘We are a conservative society’

"My head is spinning from this culture of death, and since my body is ailing, this year let’s set this grotesque family with baby Nenad Stazić on fire," the announcer proclaimed. Then, “Play the music" was heard as they ignited the effigy to wild cheers and applause.

When Slobodna Dalmacija asked Milivoj Đuka, president of the "Bako Ceremony Cultural Society" (KD Bakove svečanosti), for comment on February 23, 2020; he explained:

“We are a conservative society, and are sticking by tradition. Give a child to a mother, as the saying goes. We think this is the right thing to do,” Đuka claimed.

In an interview for Imotski Online on February 7, 2020; the festival's organizer had previously indicated that the main character of the parade would remain a secret.

"I can't reveal it to you. I can only say that everyone will understand who and what it is about," Đuka pointed out.


Milivoj Đuka | Facebook

According to a recent poll conducted by HRT (Croatia Radio Television); 63.7 percent of respondents are against allowing same-sex couples to be foster parents.


Croatia Parade Included Masks of Elvis Presley, Cleopatra, Josipa Lisac

Đuka made sure that there were as many masks as possible in the parade, all of which were made in homes throughout the town. Visitors also saw Nutcrackers, Cellists, Elvis Presley and his band, Flowers as well as individual masks of Cleopatra, and Pirates. In addition, there were homemade renderings of Croatia diva, Josipa Lisac, inspired by her performance at the inauguration of the new President.

The parade featured groups of children dressed like little lambs from the Kindergarten Ball, students from Imotski elementary schools, and many others.


Members of the HPO Gradske glazbe Imotski (HPO Imotski Town Music Group), performed cheerful carnival songs for more than a thousand Imotski residents and their guests.

The effigy of the gay couple is set on fire at 1:41:15 | Boško Ćosić Photography

UPDATE February 24, 2020: Croatian leaders and citizens condemn effigy burning. MP Arsen Bauk files charges against event organizers.

Follow our Lifestyle page for updates on this developing story. More information on the "Bako Ceremony Cultural Society" (KD Bakove svečanosti) can be found on their website here and Facebook here.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Rainbow Families NGO Says Court's Decision Bans Discrimination

ZAGREB, February 10, 2020 - The Croatian association called Dugine Obitelji (Rainbow Families) that gathers LGBTI persons who are or want to become parents said Monday that the Constitutional Court's decision under which the Foster Care Act must include life partners was important because it bans discrimination.

The Constitutional Court last Friday published a decision in which it concludes that courts and relevant bodies have the duty to enable everyone to participate in "the public service of foster care" under equal terms.

The court reached the conclusion after considering motions for the assessment of the constitutionality of three Foster Care Act articles which numerous political parties, associations and individuals claimed to be discriminate against same-sex partners.

"The decision recognises and prevents discrimination against life partners and is doing what politicians in Croatia have not been doing for years -- treat all Croatian residents equally, regardless of their sexual orientation," the coordinator of the Rainbow Families, Daniel Martinović, told a news conference.

He also commented on negative reactions to the Constitutional Court's decision.

"We are confident that it is extremely hypocritical to say that it is better for children without adequate parental care to remain in an institution than to be placed in a home of a same-sex partners. Experts and education workers of the welfare centres should decide who should or should not be a foster parent, and not those who continue to generalise and use prejudice to justify their homophobic points of view," Martinović said.

More LGBT news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Reactions to Foster Care Decision Range from Joy to Condemnation

ZAGREB, February 7, 2020 - The We Can! platform and a same-sex couple who wants to foster a child said on Friday they were pleased with a Constitutional Court decision under which everyone is entitled to foster under equal terms, while In the Name of the Family and Vigilare said it was bad for children and the judiciary.

Earlier today, the Constitutional Court published a decision in which it concludes that courts and relevant bodies have the duty to enable everyone to participate in "the public service of foster care" under equal terms. The court reached the conclusion after considering motions for the assessment of the constitutionality of three Foster Care Act articles which numerous political parties, associations and individuals claimed discriminate against same-sex partners.

Sandra Benčić, a member of the We Can! political platform, told Hina the Constitutional Court's decision followed the practice of the European Court of Human Rights under which there must be no discrimination based on sexual orientation in foster care and family life.

Benčić said the court found that the Foster Care Act had provision that could be discriminatory but did not repeal it, instead giving clear instructions on how to interpret the law so that it did not have discriminatory effects.

Benčić has sued the head of the Zagreb Social Welfare Centre, Tatjana Brozić Perić, for refusing to enforce the Administrative Court ruling which allowed Šegota and Kozić to apply for foster care.

The president of the conservative In the Name of the Family NGO, Željka Markić, said the Constitutional Court, "as a political body" of the ruling HDZ and opposition SDP parties, had overstepped its authority and delivered a decision that was harmful for children without parents and for democracy.

Speaking to Hina, Markić said the court confirmed the Foster Care Act was in line with the constitution and not discriminatory, and that the Zagreb Social Welfare Centre had rejected the homosexual couple's fostering application in line with the law, but still ordered the judiciary and administration bodies to interpret the law contrary to what it said.

Markić said the decision was harmful to children without parents whose best interest, she added, was not to be fostered or adopted by homosexual couples.

She said the decision was also "very dangerous" for democracy as the Constitutional Court, instead of repealing the Foster Care Act, if it considered it anti-constitutional and discriminatory, and returning it to parliament for further procedure which would include public and scientific consultations, had assumed the role of legislator.

The Vigilare NGO said the Constitutional Court had acted unlawfully, overstepping its authority and damaging Croatia's legal system. "They suspended the rule of law, usurping the powers of the Croatian parliament as the highest legislative body," it said in a press release.

Vigilare said the decision was against children's interest and another step towards "the deconstruction of the family and moral values" in Croatia.

More news about LGBT issues can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Croatia Gay Couple Foster Care Applicants: Country Full of Hypocrisy

A Croatia gay couple, who want to become foster parents, have a message for haters: “We are a country full of hypocrisy,” they point out in yesterday's interview with RTL Direkt. Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić, who are in a life partnership, applied to become foster parents in 2017. After passing extensive background checks, screening tests and obtaining their foster care certification, their application was rejected by the Social Welfare Center in Zagreb.

In December 2019, the Croatian Administrative Court handed down a decision which ordered the center to consider the couple’s foster parent application based on its merit only. However, the center refused to comply with the court’s decision and rejected their application again. Tatjana Brozić Perić, director of the Zagreb Social Welfare Center, now faces charges for refusing to implement the Administrative Court decision. Her conduct has also been condemned by members of the Croatian parliament.

Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić applied to the Social Welfare Center to become foster parents three years ago. After rejecting their application, the center explained that the couple cannot foster children because the law does not allow them to do so as life partners. Last December, the Administrative Court handed down a historic verdict which stated that life partners could be foster parents. However, their request was rejected again by the Social Welfare Center in January.

Croatia Law: Gay Couple Could Be Foster Parents, But Not as Life Partners

Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić, life partners who hope to become the first Croatian gay foster parents, were guests of Mojmira Pastorčić/RTL Direkt on January 28, 2020. The craziest thing of all is that if they were single instead of life partners, they could have easily fostered a child.

"That is the biggest paradox. If I had applied alone, I would not be questioned and would be welcomed at the center, I am at an ideal age, live in an urban environment, am highly educated and financially comfortable. In other words, I am in an ideal category for foster care applicants," Ivo noted.


Ivo Šegota | RTL Direkt

At Christmas they were given a "gift" by the Administrative Court, but the couple began celebrating too soon.

Director Zagreb Social Welfare Center Won’t Implement Court Decision

A few days ago, a decision was made by the Social Welfare Center, in which the director, Brozić Perić, stated that she would refuse to acknowledge the court decision because she did not want to implement it. Both Mladen and Ivo will submit a complaint to the Ministry of Demography, and they are confident that it won't repeat the center’s absurd behavior and will hand down a valid legal decision.

"We have been waiting for a long time and hope that as soon as we file our complaint, the Ministry (of Demography) will react promptly in accordance with the laws and the decision of the Administrative Court," Ivo says.

They would be the first gay couple to foster a child, but there are already several same-sex couples who have children in Croatia.

Croatia Same Sex Couples with Children Doing Well

"We don't have official statistics, but we hang out with a lot of these families. Some have children who are already grown up, but recently we've had a little 'baby boom'. Such families have had much more positive experiences than one might expect. There are families from every part of Croatia, and everything is working out very well for them. Professionals, who deal with these children in kindergartens and schools, and neighbors, generally view everyone as human beings first. Especially when it comes to a child, few are willing to act to the detriment of a child," Mladen said.

Croatia Public Reactions Overwhelmingly Positive

By all accounts, they have taken on a difficult role. "When this all began, it was not our intention to make public appearances, but immediately we realized that the saying 'When, if not now and who, if not me' could easily apply to us as well. The narrative in Croatia will not go forward unless we make public appearances and fight for our rights because our institutions have been silent or have rejected us," Ivo revealed.

The reactions they receive are mostly positive, which is surprising. People approach them throughout the day, and they also have the support of family, employers and even strangers. The pair are convinced that it is time for same-sex couples in Croatia to be allowed to adopt children.

Croatia In Company with Moldova Regarding Same Sex Foster Parenting

"Croatia is currently in company with Belarus and Moldova on this issue. The question is whether we want to be in company with them or with Spain, Austria, Germany, Great Britain. We are currently heading the EU Presidency and are proud that we are the heart of Europe. So why don't we assume a European stance regarding this issue as well? I am somewhat convinced that we are ready. There has been a huge shift toward positive comments in just one year, which is why we are glad that we have decided to make our efforts public," said Mladen.


Mladen Kožić | RTL Direkt

Some are saying that it is not necessary to experiment, but Ivo has a counterproposal for them.

Over 1000 Children in Croatian Orphanages: Shortage of Foster Parents

"We are talking about a thousand or more children who are spending their childhood in orphanages. Let’s see our opponents foster two or three children, which is as many children as we would like to foster, and we could solve all our problems in Croatia. There would not be any children left for us to foster, and everyone would be happy, except for the two of us, perhaps. "We are a country full of hypocrisy, and we don't see those who voice the loudest opposition coming down to the (Social Welfare) Center (to become foster parents). And we have a chronic shortage of foster parents in Croatia," Ivo concluded.

Mojmira Pastorčić with Mladen Kožić and Ivo Šegota | RTL Direkt

Interview with Mladen Kožić | HRT

Information on the December 2019 court decision can be found here. Details about the Social Welfare Center’s rejection of the couple’s second foster care application can be found here.

A history of the couple's efforts to become foster parents and information on the LGBT rights movement in Croatia can be found here

To learn more about the efforts of Rainbow Families (Dugine obitelji), check out their website and Facebook page

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

MPs Criticise Decision Not to Allow Same-Sex Couple to Become Foster Parents

ZAGREB, January 29, 2020 - Social Democrat MP Nenad Stazić and independent MP Marko Vučetić on Wednesday strongly criticised a decision by the Zagreb Social Welfare Centre to turn down an application by the life partners Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić to become foster parents.

"The centre has rejected the application by the same-sex couple to foster a child, that is what a Tatjana Brozić Perić, the centre's head, presumed to do," Stazić said, adding that the centre did so despite a recent ruling by the Administrative Court under which Šegota and Kožić have the right to foster children.

"The woman does not respect court decisions, she believes that she is above the law, this is a criminal offence and if we were a law-based state, Brozić Perić would be dismissed," said Stazić, noting that Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy Minister Vesna Bedeković should have dismissed Brozić Perić, describing the case as an unprecedented scandal.

Vučetic said that Šegota and Kožić were being denied the right to foster parenting due to "unusual, inhumane argumentation" coming from social groups that believe that "their narrow views of love, parenting, foster care, culture, language, religion and humanity should be the measure of the humanity of the entire society."

More news about LGBT rights in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Zagreb Pride Parade Held, No Incidents Reported

ZAGREB, June 9, 2019 - The 18th Zagreb Pride Parade was held in the Croatian capital city on Saturday under the slogan "18 Proud Years", drawing, according to its organisers, around 7,000 participants.

Participants carried banners with messages such as "Love is love", "Police are here because of you", "Together we are stronger" and "Misogyny kills".

Curious bystanders watched as the parade, with its participants carrying rainbow flags and banners, whistling and drumming, passed through the city centre.

"The atmosphere was beautiful, calls for love and alliance were heard. The number of marchers is not important, what is important is how many different people attended this year's protest and how many different people sent out the message that we do not accept restriction of human rights," Zagreb Pride programme coordinator Doria Jukić told Hina after the parade, which was held amid strong police presence.

"18 years ago, we - lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, intersexuals and queer people - embarked with our allies and supporters on a brave and proud struggle for freedom, equality and rights in Croatia just as our fellow fighters rose against oppression in New York 50 years ago and started the movement for the rights of LGBTIQ persons in the United States and the rest of the world," said Zagreb Pride organisers in the Ribnjak park, where the parade ended with an entertainment programme.

The organisers said that LGBTIQ people had won some battles in Croatia but that they still lived in fear of violence, that hate speech and hate crime were still not prosecuted and that they did not have the right to parenthood or foster care.

The Zagreb Pride Parade was also attended by politicians, including MP Milorad Pupovac of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Social Democrat MP Gordan Maras and Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić, who said that it was important for Croatia to expand personal freedoms and tolerance and raise respect for human rights to a higher level.

"This country must be a country of equal opportunities for all," he said, adding that same-sex couples should be given the right to provide foster care as well as to adopt.

He said that he considered the Life Partnership Act (adopted during the term of a previous, SDP-led government) a major step forward and that values of social democracy were universal human values.

"They have to be the standard, something that is not called into question. The freedom of an individual to decide about their life, the freedom of a woman to decide about her own body, the freedom of same-sex partners to decide about their family must not be called into question. We are fighting for that because we want to be a normal country, like other European countries," said Bernardić.

Zagreb police said there were no reports of serious incidents during the parade, and one person was taken into custody for disturbing the peace.

More news about LGBT issues can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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