Friday, 24 September 2021

Vanja Juric Says Court Ban Issued to Portal Needs Thorough Investigation

September the 24th, 2021 - Croatian lawyer Vanja Juric has stated that a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the court ban issued to a media portal prohibiting them from publishing texts on an institution and its director needs to take place. You can read more about the details here.

As Index writes, Vanja Juric, who is currently representing the H-Alter portal (which is the target of the court ban) and is otherwise an expert in media law, commented on the case during Novi Dan (New Day), which kicked up a lot of fuss and saw numerous reactions from the public, the profession and politicians.

On Tuesday, the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb imposed a temporary measure banning the publication of articles about the director of the Polyclinic for the Protection of Children and Youth on the H-Alter portal. The lawyer representing the portal in this case, Vanja Juric, revealed what their next steps are.

"The appeal procedure is the only possible procedure, and we have a deadline of 8 days. They're convinced that they did everything right as journalists and will do everything to protect journalists' freedoms," she said, adding: "H-Alter is not allowed to publish articles about the Polyclinic or Dr. Buljan Flander, but a journalist working for any other media can continue to report on the subject."

The court did not seek a statement from the publisher

Vanja Juric pointed out that the judge did not ask the publisher or the journalist to comment:

"Neither the publisher nor the journalist were asked for their comments. The explanation states that this wasn't done because it wasn't necessary for the decision to be made. The judge is not obliged to do that, but I think that in such sensitive matters the judge had to assess that it is possible in this procedure, and the portal should be given an opportunity to comment, and then it needs to be seen whether this should be treated as something to be reported.''

When asked if Dr. Gordana Buljan Flander had other methods if she thought that the journalist was belittling or telling lies about her, Juric said:

"This was a bad assessment, a misuse of the institute of an interim measure. According to Croatian media law, there are a number of ways to react in these cases. To my knowledge, the Polyclinic and Buljan Flander responded with requests to correct the information that was published. This was wrong in a number of ways, but the focus should be on what the court does, which is not there to look after the rights of the Polyclinic, but also the rights of all of us. The key is to focus on how such a court decision could have been made at all.''

Vanja Juric believes that this decision cannot survive and that the County Court will need to overturn the decision.

"That said, if it does remain like this, it opens the door to the most serious violations of media freedoms. It isn't that someone is seeking the removal of a certain text, but that the court is prohibiting any reporting on the professional work of an institution in the future at all, regardless of the circumstances, and regardless of a positive or negative context. That is why this is very dangerous,'' she added.

Shocking testimonies...

The story of the work of the Polyclinic came into the public spotlight mainly after Severina's confession, although about 40 women were included in this series of stories and texts.

"Before all this, I followed the story and when Severina came out with her testimony, I was deeply upset by it. I think it's commendable that she, as a public figure who has influence, decided to go public with such a personal topic and encourage public debate on topics that are important. When mothers face someone more powerful than themselves during divorce proceedings. Any person who uses their influence in public to draw attention to things like this should be encouraged to do so,'' Vanja Juric noted.

The interim measure must be justified within a period of 30 days, and it can only be through a lawsuit, we cannot yet know what exactly it will be, she added.

Juric made sure to emphasis the fact that she truly doesn't recall any such examples before: "This has set a precedent. There have been attempts at interim measures to request the removal of one or more articles, or to prohibit the publication of a particular story, but a ban on future reporting, something like this has never happened in Croatia, and as far as I know - in the world.''

The lawyer says the story should be investigated to the very end and then we can really reveal how well-founded these damning allegations are:

"The only thing that makes sense now are to check it all. The accusations made by these women, and all the texts are based on serious testimonies, there can be no justification for the authorities not to do anything. The only logical thing is to check everything, everything needs to be clarified to the end. Legal stories such as this can take years. I hope common sense will prevail, that the Polyclinic will see the error of its ways and that it will withdraw the request for an interim measure. I expect if it remains in force and if a court case is initiated, then we'll be talking about a period of three to five years,'' concluded Vanja Juric.

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Thursday, 23 September 2021

Lawyer Vanja Juric: Court Ban on Writing about Someone Has Never Been Seen Before

September the 23rd, 2021 - Croatian lawyer Vanja Juric has spoken out about the court ban issued to a certain media portal on writing about certain institutions and people, adding that something like that has never been seen before in this country.

As Index writes, after the court made a scandalous decision that the H-alter portal and journalist Jelena Jindra are no longer allowed to publish texts and write about the Child Protection Polyclinic and its head Gordana Buljan Flander, the reactions have been coming in fast.

Minister of Culture: How is that possible?

"How is it possible to make a decision to forbid someone to write about something in advance. Any dispute regarding articles in the media can be resolved by a denial, or a request for correction, but in this way, it stops journalists from even writing about something ...", said Minister Obuljen Korzinek.

Lawyer Vanja Juric: It's one of the most severe attacks on media freedoms we've seen.

“Without any exaggeration, this is one of the most severe attacks on media freedoms in general. The court banned any media outlet, which dealt with a topic of very serious social importance, from any future reporting on the work of that public institution and the head of that institution. The ban is formulated completely generally, so, legally and factually, it refers to all topics that in any way relate to the professional activities carried out by public authorities.

The court didn't request any statement from the media or from the journalist who wrote those articles, explaining that such a statement isn't necessary for the making of that decision. Such a decision has not been recorded in the practice of Croatian courts before, it's contrary to all standards of the European Court of Human Rights and, in general, to the fundamental principles of a democratic society. It opens the door to all state and public bodies, politicians, officials and all other persons to try to stop journalistic reporting in the same way, given that it is now clear that it is quite possible that such attempts will be approved by the court,'' lawyer Vanja Juric said in conversation with Index.

''The judiciary wants to silence the media'' this was the Croatian Journalists' Association's reaction.

"By use of the ''Insurance Decision'' issued by the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb of the 21st of September 2021, which imposes a temporary measure banning the Association of Independent Media Culture, the publisher of the H-alter portal, from publishing articles about the Child and Youth Protection Clinic of the City of Zagreb and its director Gordana Buljan Flander, the Croatian judiciary has resorted to unprecedented censorship in advance,'' they claim.

"After H-alter published a series of articles by journalist Jelena Jindra over the past few weeks entitled The system for the protection of, or the abuse of children?, in which it problematises the work of Gordana Buljan Flander, ie the Polyclinic she heads, Judge Andrija Krivak signed a scandalous decision meaning that this medium is forbidden to write about a particular person.

The court assessed the journalistic research of colleague Jindra allegedly without trying to obtain anything from the editor or journalist and the publisher's representative. Instead of discussing any doubts in a regular trial, the judge decided to further ban H-alter from investigating the actions of a public institution and its director. Such a precedent could be absolutely disastrous for media freedom in Croatia.

After years of witnessing SLAP lawsuits against journalists, this time the judiciary went a step further and decided to silence the media portal entirely. It should be noted that the director of this institution and her associates, according to the testimony of colleagues, have repeatedly missed the opportunity to present to the public their view of the controversial doctrine of ''child alienation''.

The Croatian Journalists' Association and the Croatian Journalists' Union both believe that this is an extremely dangerous attempt at censorship and the inadmissible silence of the media.

They have both therefore called on all Croatian media, all journalists and editors, to resist this form of pressure and, in solidarity with their colleague Jindra and the non-profit portal H-alter, broadcast the her series researching the institition and thus show that we cannot be silenced. The above was fully supported by Maja Sever, President of the Croatian Journalists' Union and Hrvoje Zovko, President of the Croatian Journalists' Association.

Lawyer Vesna Alaburic: This is biggest restriction on media freedom in Croatia

"The decision prohibiting the publisher of the H-Alter portal from publishing any information about Gordana Buljan Flander and the polyclinic she manages is an unprecedented restriction on media freedom in our country, it's also the biggest. As far as I know, never in the history of the Croatian judicial system has a media outlet been banned from publishing any articles about an individual or an institution.

From the multitude of possible objections to this unprecedented ban, I'll single out a few.

First, an absolute, non-selective ban on publishing any information about a legal entity, regardless of its truthfulness and public interest, constitutes the abolition of media freedoms. Therefore, this prohibition is contrary to the fundamental legal principles of the protection of freedom of expression and can in no way be justified by the need to protect a personality.

The ban regarding the publisher of the H-Alter portal is not an obstacle for publishing articles by our excellent journalist Jelena Jindra about Dr. Buljan Flander and the polyclinic in other media or communication platforms. That is why this ban cannot serve the purpose that Dr. Buljan Flander expected and for which the court determined it. On the contrary, this ban will focus the attention of the entire Croatian public on H-Alter and the texts of Jelena Jindra and all information about Dr. Buljan Flander that the court considered disputable will receive huge publicity.

"All court conclusions are to the detriment of the author and publisher"

Furthermore, the court concluded that it didn't require the statement of the publisher, editor-in-chief or the author of the disputed texts. The judge analysed the texts and assessed whether the journalist acted in good faith, whether she performed her journalistic work professionally and in accordance with the rules of the profession, whether she made some controversial claims intentionally, whether she faithfully transmitted the statements of others and the like. All court conclusions are to the detriment of the author and publisher. Such conduct of the court constitutes a grave violation of the right to a fair trial, in particular the right of each party to the proceedings to comment on the opposing party's motions, present its arguments and propose evidence.

''I'm particularly concerned about the part of the decision in which the court argues that a fair balance should be struck between the conflicting rights to the protection of the right to personality and the right to freedom of expression. The court showed a complete lack of understanding of the legal standards for the protection of the freedom of expression. Even Dr. Buljan Flander herself stated in the ban proposal that it is "justified to expect media interest" in these topics.

The court, however, did not take public interest into account, nor did it even consider the almost unlimited right of the public to be informed of information and opinions on topics of public interest. If any of this information is incorrect, the sanction will be appropriate compensation for damages to the injured parties. And that is the limit of freedom of expression set by a democratic society in order to protect the rights of others,'' commented lawyer Vesna Alaburic.

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Sunday, 8 August 2021

Can Unvaccinated Croats be Fired? Lawyer Antonio Volarevic Weighs In

August the 8th, 2021 - While vaccination isn't mandatory, many limits are being gradually placed on those who aren't vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Could Croatian employees who aren't vaccinated ever face being ''let go'' by their employers? Croatian lawyer Antonio Volarevic weighed in on this question.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, due to the continued spread of the novel coronavirus and sometimes poor vaccination coverage, many countries are imposing restrictions on the unvaccinated. Some unvaccinated people are even being fired from their places of work. Namely, in Italy, you absolutely can't enter theatres, museums, gyms, or the insides of cafes and restaurants without being able to show a green pass proving you're vaccinated. According to the US CNN, three unvaccinated employees were fired.

Lawyer Antonio Volarevic revealed for Dnevnik whether there are legal grounds for such moves here in Croatia.

"In Croatia, there's really no legal basis for such repression. There is no law or regulation that would restrict the freedom of movement of citizens in that sense,'' he said.

For example, on CNN, three unvaccinated people were fired. Here in this country, according to lawyer Antonio Volarevic, that is simply not allowed, but in America "it obviously is".

America, he explains, has a strikingly different legal system - a system of precedent. In this country, something must actually be prescribed in advance in order to be sanctioned.

"I say that it's inadmissible because an employer, in order to want to terminate an employment contract for something, must therefore have some justification, a legally valid basis. The fact that the worker wasn't vaccinated cannot be the basis for their dismissal,'' he explained.

If the employer fired an unvaccinated person because they're unvaccinated, then they wouldn't be punished because that isn't prescribed by law. That said, the worker can go to court and then the court can decide whether the dismissal was justified or not. In that case, the employer must return the worker to work and pay them the salaries he would have received if they'd stayed at work, as well as compensation for damages,'' lawyer Antonio Volarevic said.

The employer has no right to request an employee's vaccination information, nor do they have any right to keep records of who has been vaccinated and hasn't been vaccinated,” he stated.

"All of this, creating an atmosphere of fear where people should be afraid they could lose their jobs, that they'll end up getting fired if they aren't vaccinated - it's completely illegal,'' lawyer Antonio Volarevic concluded.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Curious Croatian Laws: 4 Facts You May Not Know

July 24, 2021 - Excelling in theory, failing in practice, that could, in short, be the summary of 2021 Rule of Law Report for Croatia, issued by the European Commission. Laudably keeping in step with the changing times, but worryingly lagging behind when it comes to basic rights, here are four things you may not know. A look at curious Croatian laws.

When I was still a wee first-year law student, one of our classes featured a guest lecturer from the U.S. In order to prepare for the class, we had to read up on a topic that had to do with the philosophy of law, full of technical terms we had yet to grasp, all in English. Confused and unsure how to proceed, we came to the class dreading the moment when this stern American professor would start asking questions.

What greeted us defied all of our expectations. Dressed in a plain T-shirt, with tattoos on both his arms, to break the ice, the professor started walking among us, listing weird and anachronistic American laws that are in place even today. He even openly admitted to crossing the street at a red light on his way to the lecture. In comparison to our own professors, always dressed in perfectly ironed button-up shirts, he couldn't look less like an authority on a legal matter. And yet...

To me, Croatian laws are not dissimilar to what I experienced that day. For all the procedural complexity, at their core, they are straightforward and written in a way that is easy to understand, even to an average person. However, even if they are easy to comprehend, they will still often leave you wondering....why???

#1 If you commit an offense described in the Law on Misdemeanors Against Public Peace and Order, you will be charged a be paid in German marks.

As Index/Hina wrote in 2019, the law, which has existed since 1977, was last amended in 1994 when, due to the war and the difficult economic situation, inflation hit the Croatian dinar (kuna didn't become the official currency until May of that year) the amendments to the law expressed penalties in German marks. After 1994, no government felt the need to rectify this, so the courts came up with an intricate way to convert the sum the offender has to pay first into euros, and then into kunas. So, how do they do that?

Well, the Croatian National Bank uses the exchange rate of the mark against the euro, which in 1999 was fixed at 1€ = 1.95 DEM. Therefore, after the verdict, the penalty must be expressed in euros, and since this currency is not domestic either, the middle exchange rate of the CNB for kuna and euros is once again used. In short, a fine of, for example, DEM 200 is converted into euros and amounts to €102, after which, using the CNB's daily exchange rate (€ 1 = HRK 7.39), the amount is HRK 757. 

At the time of writing of this article, we didn't have the exact statistics on the number of documented misdemeanours for 2020 or 2021, but whatever they are, we are sure that making the culprit figure out the sum to be paid on their own would serve as an excellent additional deterrent. 

 #2 Husbands cannot initiate divorce proceedings if their wives are pregnant

The Croatian Family Law Act allows for women to file for divorce when pregnant, but husbands have to wait until the baby is one year old. The rationale behind this is that the added stress of divorce could have an added negative impact on a woman who's already in a delicate state and thus in an unequal position in comparison to her husband. On the whole, the Croatian legal system is still finding its footing when it comes to the rights of women. On the one hand, female genital mutilation has been criminalized, but the non-consensual distribution of sexually explicit images or videos is still waiting to be criminalized. Women also don't have the right to home birth, there are no efficient tools in place to combat rough and inhumane treatment at the hands of medical professionals when it comes to abortion, miscarriage, and giving birth. 

#3 Retirees coming from outside the EU cannot obtain permanent residence in Croatia

As described in the article Why Croatia Is Not (But Could Be) a Top American Retirement Destination, foreigners who are well-off and just want to enjoy living in Beautiful Croatia, but have no ties to Croatia will find themselves in front of a brick wall if they attempt to stay here on a more permanent basis. Even if they are willing to contribute by paying the taxes, insurance, have proof they won't become an unnecessary burden to the system, and are willing to donate their time and skills to the community. They can be granted only a temporary one-year visa, after which they must leave the country and can’t reapply until 6 months after expiration. 

 #4 Homeless people used to have proof of residence to apply for a place in a shelter...despite having no residence to speak of.

This legal conundrum was fixed some 6 years ago, when, after a long battle with the system, Mile Mrvalj became the first person to be able to effectively call upon Article 6 of Law on Residence which dictates that every homeless person has the right to obtain residence (and address) at the local Center for Social Care or other institution which provides accommodation for the homeless people. Without an address, a homeless person cannot register to vote, look for work, or to sign up for social security and is in danger of being fined for not having a valid ID card. Today, Mile is a tour guide for Invisible Zagreb, a project aimed at raising awareness of the problem of Zagreb's homeless people. You can find them on Facebook, with tours in English also available. 

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Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Zagreb Residents Plant Mini Garden in Centre of City, Receive Penalty

September the 2nd, 2020 - Croatia hasn't earned the names 'ab(p)surdistan' and 'uhjlebistan' without a very good reason. There are numerous laws in this little country which simply boggle the mind, and one of the most ridiculous and petty stories yet is the one which involves some Zagreb residents being penalised for planting some seeds in the city.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of September, 2020, back at the end of July, Martina Zivkovic and Boris Novkovic, Zagreb residents who live in the very heart of the city, more precisely on Preradoviceva, were notified by the municipal police that they were to be penalised for having planted a mini garden on a green area in front of their building back during lockdown in April.

Shocked by the sheer, unbounded idiocy of the notice, both of the Zagreb residents refused to pay the 350 kuna that was being demanded within three days, and recently they received an official fine. They have to pay a fine of 700 kuna each and another 200 kuna for the costs of the insane so-called proceedings. These poor people now have to pay 900 kuna because they planted several small plants to make this central city street look a little more pleasant during the misery and anxiety of lockdown, writes Telegram.

The communal police punished them according to Article 95, paragraph 1, item 10 of the Decision on communal order, according to which it is forbidden to undertake unauthorised interventions such as planting plants on public green areas. The reasoning of the decision states that "when determining the amount of the fine, all circumstances that affect the amount of the fine were taken into account, and the imposed fine is considered appropriate to the gravity of the violation and its consequences." 

Having a hard time wrapping your head around the level of patheticness of that? Yes. Us too. Neither of these Zagreb residents is giving up on the matter and are clearly not going to accept being bullied. Martina Zivkovic and Boris Novkovic both announced for Telegram that they would appeal these penalties to the Misdemeanor Court.

In the wake of a global pandemic and in the very heart of a city which was rocked by a devastating earthquake in March this year, one might think that the communal services would have more important things to attend to than punishing residents for planting a tiny little garden in an attempt to make life a little brighter during what was a horrendous time for every Zagreb resident. Sadly, virus or no virus, uhljebistan is alive and well.

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Friday, 20 December 2019

Croatia Court Decision: Gay Couple Allowed to be Foster Parents

For the very first time in Croatia, a Zagreb court rules that same-sex married couple Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić have the right to be foster parents, and the Ministry of Demography, which rejected their request to provide foster care last year, must implement the new decision within 60 days, this time in accordance with domestic and international legislation.

It stems from yesterday’s decision by the Zagreb Administrative Court, which annulled previous decisions including the refusals of the Center for Social Welfare and the ministry, according to Kristina Turčin/Jutarnji List on December 19, 2019.

Croatia Court Decision Final: No Appeal Allowed

“The court's decision is binding, and an appeal is not allowed, so this judgment is final. The written ruling has not yet arrived, but as stated during the announcement, the court accepted our argument in the lawsuit, based on Croatian regulations and the European Convention on Human Rights. As a result, the court ordered the relevant government agencies to implement the new decision in accordance with the judgment. We believe that the agencies will respect the court decision,” stated Sanja Bezbradica Jelavić, the attorney representing Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić.

“We are overjoyed. As we told the judge, this is the Christmas gift we didn't dare hope for,” Šegota revealed.

In 2015, he and his partner Mladen Kožić were among the first couples to enter a life partnership after the Life Partnership Act was passed in Croatia. Their desire to grow their family and raise children has existed for a long time.

Request to Adopt Rejected: Court Case Pending

“We have wanted to be parents for a long time. Therefore, shortly after our partnership ceremony, we submitted a request to the Center for Social Welfare to become adoptive parents, but were rejected immediately, which is why we have also initiated a lawsuit in the Zagreb Administrative Court, which is still pending,” according to Šegota.

They were not discouraged and started considering other options, such as foster care.

“We gave it a lot of thought. We are aware that this is temporary, rather than permanent childcare, and that foster parents are not adoptive parents, but we have concluded that this option is still a dream come true,” he continues.


Applied to Become Foster Parents as Adoption Alternative

Therefore, Šegota applied with his life partner Mladen Kožić to the Zagreb branch of the Center for Social Welfare to become foster parents in the summer of 2017.

“Our application was very well received, especially by the psychologist and the social worker, who were particularly pleased when we announced that we were interested in fostering two or three children. Zagreb lacks foster families, especially those with the capability and desire to foster more than one child, which is why the centers are often forced to separate biological brothers and sisters,” he explained.

They both underwent an extensive psychological assessment process, during which they performed parenting skills tests, interviews, and discussed their motives for becoming foster care providers. A social history evaluation was also performed to assess their environment and family support network.

Center Rejects Foster Application Even Though Requirements Met

“We completely satisfied the requirements, received a positive assessment and everyone seemed pleased that this was happening. However, suddenly the center stopped contacting us. After the positive evaluation, we should have begun compulsory foster care training, which would have been followed by obtaining a foster care license. Suddenly, we could no longer get a response, and then in early December 2017, we were informed in writing that there were no legal prerequisites for initiating the licensing procedure because we are in a life partnership,” Šegota recounted.

They were very disappointed, he says, because after the initial response, they had hoped everything would be okay. After all, the Life Partnership Act clearly states that life partners are supposed to be legally on par with heterosexual spouses. As lawmakers have often pointed out, the only right that can be challenged is joint adoption of children - but not foster care, which is a profession and does not imply permanent childcare.

“We immediately submitted complaints to the Ministry of Demography about the center’s decision, but they rejected our appeal. We had no option but to institute legal proceedings,” they concluded.

Discrimination Lawsuit Initiated in July 2018

Their lawyer Bezbradica Jelavić initiated the lawsuit in July 2018. She noted that the center had begun the official evaluation of Šegota and Kožić in accordance with the Foster Care Act, but despite conducting a full procedure, which lasted four months, the center eventually rejected their request "because of a lack of legal presumptions.”

"Such a sudden detour in the evaluation process led us to the conclusion that there was a directive from above to treat these applicants differently. Considering the abrupt termination of the proceedings which were already underway, and even though the plaintiffs had met all the legal requirements, it's obvious that the Center for Social Welfare's treatment of the applicants was discriminatory due to their sexual orientation." The lawsuit further outlined the plaintiffs’ right to equal treatment and family life according to the law. National regulations, the constitution and international treaties guarantee the prohibition of discrimination as specified by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

"The plaintiffs state that they became aware that the Center for Social Welfare had abruptly discontinued another foster care evaluation involving life partners. This case, which had reached a later stage in the assessment, indicated that discrimination against same-sex couples exists within the organization," the lawsuit concludes, and cites several judgments from the European Court for Human Rights regarding similar cases, which were decided in favor of same-sex couples.

Well-Being and Interest of Children Should Come First

In the lawsuit, they also cautioned that the sole focus of the foster care profession should be the interest and well-being of children, not the sexual orientation of the foster parents, especially given the fact that the demand for foster parents is extremely high.

"Thus, by rejecting the request for foster care, the Center for Social Welfare in Zagreb violated not only the applicant's fundamental human rights, but also the right of a child or more children to quality accommodation and care, which they would receive in a stable family setting." According the center’s own evaluation, Šegota and Kožić demonstrated that they could provide this kind of environment, before their application was  summarily rejected.

“The court fully accepted this argument in the lawsuit,” confirmed Bezbradica Jelavić, attorney for the couple.

Šegota and Kožić believe that the ministry and the foster care team at the Center for Social Welfare will respond quickly to the decision by the Zagreb Administrative Court. However, since the verdict has just been published and a written explanation is still pending, the Ministry of Demography has not yet been made aware of the details and could not comment or announce how it would react.

Excited to Finally Become Foster Parents

“We have patiently awaited this verdict. And we’re excited because we believe that we’ll be licensed as foster parents within the next few months and a child will arrive in our family. Or more children,” Šegota hopes.

He points out that this decision is completely in line with the foster care profession because, he emphasizes, foster parents do not have a right to a child, but every child has a right to a family.

"We hope that our family will be the right one for a child," he conveyed. Kožić adds that it is good that the decision has been redirected to the requirements of the profession because the rights of a child should not be the topic of daily political debate.

“The government, after adopting the new Foster Care Act, reiterated that they did not want to explicitly allow life partners to provide foster care because it contradicts their worldview, but at the same time they indicated that if the court rules otherwise, they will respect the court's decision. Now the court has provided children who don’t have a family with an opportunity for Santa Claus rather than a Grinch. Because it is the right of every child to grow up in a loving family, and not in an orphanage,” Kožić concludes.


Founding Members of Croatia Based ‘Rainbow Families’

Šegota and Kožić are among the founders of the Croatia based group “Rainbow Families,” which is modeled after similar organizations worldwide, and brings together LGBTIQ couples and individuals who have children, want to have children, or would like to learn more about the rewards and challenges of raising a family.

Members of the organization first came together in 2011 in a psychosocial support group organized by the Zagreb Pride Association, led by psychologists Iskra Pejić and Matee Popov. After completing two support group cycles, the group members continued to meet and socialize as an informal citizens' initiative. Then, they established a forum and a website. In 2017, their association was officially registered. In 2018, they published an illustrated book titled "My Rainbow Family,” which was first book in Croatia to feature children with same-sex parents. In 2019, they organized the first international conference on rainbow families called “Our Children Are Fine.” Rainbow Families regularly organizes group activities and gatherings, which continue today.

For non-traditional families in Croatia, sharing experiences with others in similar circumstances can be very rewarding and fulfilling. In Rainbow Family meetings, LGBTIQ parents, and those planning parenthood, are given the opportunity to share their experiences and get to know each other.

Full Joint Adoption by Same-Sex Couples Legal in Seventeen European Countries

Full joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in seventeen European countries: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Another five: Estonia, Italy, Slovenia, San Marino and Switzerland permit stepchild adoption in which the registered partner can adopt the biological and the adopted child of his or her partner in some cases. In Croatia, a life partner may become a partner-guardian over their partner's child, which is somewhat comparable to stepchild adoption. The new policy in Croatia follows that of Greece in which same-sex couples in a civil partnership may become foster, but not adoptive, parents.

Follow our Politics page for more information on LGBTIQ rights in Croatia.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Some Croatian Towns Banning Drying Laundry on Balconies?

As Portal Oko writes on the 1st of August, 2019, Šolta, Rijeka, Kolan on Pag, Mljet, Kaštela, multiple Croatian cities and municipalities both on the mainland and on the islands, have introduced provisions to ban drying laundry and other clothing outside on balconies, writes

The bans have been introduced in order to properly line up with a communal law which was first introduced last year, and they aren't just laws ''on paper'' and free to be interpreted in any way possible, as many in Croatia are. According to a new communal order published in the Official Gazette of the island of Šolta in July this year, those who fail to comply with this decision could be fined 2,000 kuna.

"It's prohibited to hang laundry, linen, rugs, clothes and other objects that obstruct the appearance of the building from windows and doors, balconies, fences and other parts of the building facing the public," reads Article 12 of the Decree on communal order recently published in the Official Gazette of Šolta.

The same provisions have also been enforced by Rijeka, Kaštela, Mljet, and in Kolan on Pag.

A similar provision was issued by the City of Rijeka earlier on, more specifically back in March this year, and the punishment for those who don't respect is also 2000 kuna. In Kaštela, in June this year, they also decided on the same measure, and the punishment is also 2000 kuna. In Mljet, this decision was taken back in April, and the fine imposed on those who dry their clothes and other items on windows and balconies where the appearance of the building is obstructed also stands at 2000 kuna. The powers that be on Kolan on the popular island of Pag also made a similar decision late last year.

Croatian tourism, which largely rests on the timeless laurels of Mediterranean narrative and tradition, will now remain stuck for an authentic image in certain cities, as one of the more recognisable symbols of the Mediterranean way of life will be made illegal, and citizens who choose to continue to cultivate these old and utterly harmless practices will unfortunately be penalised.

One might ask whether or not the powers that be in Croatia have nothing better to do than issue fines for people who want to dry their laundry using the sun. Are there no more pressing issues in this deeply problematic, messy little country other than what the exterior of a building looks like when you hang last night's jeans on it? Clearly not.

Osijek, far from the glitz and the glam of the Croatian coast, is one of several continental Croatian cities to have imposed such nit-picky penalties as well.

Article 11 of the new law states that the parts of a building facing areas of public use cannot have laundry (and other objects that impede the exterior of the building) hung or displayed from them. The penalty for committing this truly heinous crime (yes, that's sarcasm) in Osijek is 200 kuna.

Article 16 is where things get even more ridiculous. The owners or ''users'' of gardens are obliged to continuously remove ambrosia and other harmful plants, and the fine for violating this law stands at 5000 kuna.

The keeping of animals is prohibited on the territory of Osijek within the boundaries of construction land, unless specifically permitted. Exceptionally, along with the zoo, animals are allowed to be held in an organised manner in facilities used for health, rehabilitation and entertainment purposes.

Article 42 states that if a public area is occupied, the space left for pedestrian passage must not be less than two metres wide. In any case, it is forbidden (according to Article 44) to occupy a public area without the approval of the appropriate governing body, and the fine for doing so without proper approval is 5000 kuna.

It is forbidden to stick and place posters on trees, on the facades of buildings, on fences, in substations and in places that are not intended for this purpose. The fine for doing so is 2500 kuna. On the other hand, in the land of paradoxes, it is forbidden to destroy neatly placed posters, advertisements and signs.

On a somewhat more sane wavelength, alcohol consumption in public will see you hit with a 200 kuna fine.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all public areas (except in the case of public terraces or during approved, organised public gatherings) and the prescribed fine for drinking in public is 200 kuna.

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