Wednesday, 7 July 2021

PM Andrej Plenković Strongly condemns violence after LGTBIQ Pride Parade

ZAGREB, 7 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Wednesday strongly condemned the violence that had occurred after the LGTBIQ Pride Parade in Zagreb on Saturday. 

"That is unacceptable, Croatia is a free country and everyone should be what they are. Human rights and the rights of all minorities, including sexual minorities, should be respected," Plenković said in an interview with Croatian Radio.

"Croatia is big enough for everyone to be free," he stressed.

Plenković recalled that Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs and Human Rights Boris Milošević had also condemned the physical assaults on members of the LGBTIQ community, noting that what Milošević wrote in his Facebook post was on behalf of the whole cabinet.

"I totally agree with him. I think that violence and inciting to violence is unacceptable. And now (Bridge MPs) Petrov and Grmoja are crying because they have received threats, they were obviously perceived as some kind of inciters. I receive such threats on a daily and weekly basis and I don't speak about it with anyone. One learns to cope with it, while they are now crying about it," the PM said.

"The worst actors on the scene are those who are exclusive, and I want us to build an inclusive society in which everyone will advocate and stand behind their values and in which everyone will be able to ensure an education for their children based on the values that they have and share. Things should not be imposed on anyone. If someone is different, respect them, they also have their freedom and their choices. We must build a society that is inclusive, that's the most important thing, and I don't see why it should be any different," he added. 

He said that people in Croatia needed a little encouragement to get vaccinated against COVID-19, while certain actors in society needed encouragement to be more tolerant. "That will come about, I am optimistic."

Milanović's double standards

Plenković also talked about the environmental devastation of Vruja Cove on the southern Dalmatian coast and Sunday's protest rally ironically called the Illegal Construction and Nature Devastation Festival, where protesters called out Stipe Latković, a businessman from Split and a friend and donor of President Milanović.

Asked why the government was not acting, given that the property in case is state-owned, Plenković said that the relevant inspectorate had issued a number of decisions, "which obviously were not complied with", and imposed fines,

"Those decisions were made not just this year but for many years, and now these campaigners for (an independent) judiciary, who are accusing the judiciary, as Milanović is, of being under the control of the (ruling) HDZ, are protecting these illegal builders. This is a fantastic example of double standards," Plenković said.

He said that this was not the only "brilliant" example of double standards, citing the cases of Constitutional Court judge Andrej Abramović, who used a garden hose to pour water on his neighbours, SDP MP Marina Opačak Bilić, who is suspected of economic crime, and Sisak mayor Kristina Ikić Baniček who failed to provide requested documents to USKOK anti-corruption investigators.

"All these are double standards of campaigners for an independent judiciary, and here I mean Milanović," the prime minister said.

 Bačić's arrest not pleasant for either HRT or Parliament

Commenting on the arrest of the director-general of the HRT public broadcasting service, Kazimir Bačić, on suspicion of corruption, Plenković said that the judicial authorities were acting completely independently and impartially.

"I don't want to speculate about anyone's responsibility, but the situation is not pleasant either for the HRT or for the Croatian parliament which appointed Bačić," he said.

The parliamentary Media Committee is meeting today to discuss the proposal to relieve Bačić of his duties and appoint an acting director-general. 

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Monday, 5 July 2021

Zagreb Gay Pride 2021 Analysis: Issues Still Exist, Pride Celebrates History and Present Equality

July 5, 2021 - Gay rights in Croatia still have challenges ahead, but even if all problems are resolved, Pride should remain a commemorative event. A look at the history of gay culture in Croatia and the current climate in this Zagreb Gay Pride 2021 Analysis by TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac.

Zagreb Pride is the oldest pride in Croatia. First held in 2002, it attracts more and more people every year, from LGBTQ members, straight people that support gay rights to NGOs, human rights activists, and even politicians from the left and liberal specter. Over the years, the event grew from a one-day pride to Pride month, full of educational and entertaining events regarding LGBTQ issues and a chance for people with the same preferences to meet and celebrate who they are.

Pride month is marked in June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan.

„The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets, and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world“, reminds

When it comes to LGBTQ in Croatia, as you can expect with the ideological divide Croatians generally experience, there are mixed feelings on the issue.

From street violence to a family event  

Participating in the first Pride in 2002 required that if you are a man loving a man ready to openly admit it, you had to have balls.

The attacks by skinheads and other „morally concerned citizens were fierce and violent. Participants truly needed police protection which was provided but also needed to be careful to not get hit by the incoming rocks that were thrown among the participants.


Police arresting violent skinhead at the first Zagreb Pride in 2002, screenshot / Zagreb pride

But, at least for Zagreb, the situation got better and more open. Today, pride is the forthcoming celebration of love and freedom, and entire families can be seen to join the picnic at Ribnjak park to teach their children tolerance and that people are not sick or different from others because of their sexual preference. Other larger cities in Croatia, such as Split, slowly but surely, do follow that path too, and Rijeka, the pinnacle of liberal Croatia, is also a very gay-friendly city.

Of course, a political counterstrike is expected and quite strong. The first most notable one was the 2013 referendum, where it was voted that the Croatian constitution declares marriage as a „community between a man and woman“. The goal was to deny LGBTQ couples the same rights as enjoyed by straight people.

However, the bill on life partnership outplayed that attempt.

In the meantime, LGBTQ couples can also adopt children in Croatia, as Constitutional Court concluded that gay couples fostering children is not against the Croatian Constitution.

That decision and along with the general openness of Croatia towards LGBTQ was followed by a controversial carnival in Imotski where an effigy of a gay couple was burned. President Zoran Milanović demanded an apology from the organizers, and SDP's MP Arsen Bauk filed charges against the organizers.

Counting pluses and minuses, the report on Croatia being the 39th best country for LGBTQ visitors still seems to uphold. No changes for the better, but at least Croatia is still in the top third for this category of tourists.

 Haters strike back

2020 and 2021 sadly saw the uprise of violence towards LGBTQ in the Croatian capital. Apart from the occasional tearing down or burning of the rainbow flag, Croatia was shocked with an attempt of burning a man in Maksimir Forest Park as well, with his sexual preference being the sole motive for the attack.

 On the other side, this year's pride felt to start stronger than ever. The newly elected mayor Tomislav Tomašević joined the parade, along with stating that Zagreb is a city that is open to everyone. This year arranged a bit differently to adhere to corona measures; around 2500 participated in the event.  

„Twenty of our prides made our city and our republic a better, more democratic, and joyous place for the life of all citizens“, was the main message of the 20th edition of Zagreb Pride.

As reported by, the Zagreb Pride association representatives stated that the Croatian LGBTIQ community „became a powerful, responsible and self-aware part of the country, but that the fight isn't over“.

„Our constitution and our laws still do not include in a complete and fair way. Our streets and squares are still not free of hate. We didn't forget nor we will forget victims of homophobic and fascist rampage in this year and all previous years“, stated Zagreb Pride.  

Sadly, while Pride itself went without issues, participants of the pride who walked the streets of Zagreb after pride with rainbow flags faced a series of physical attacks on several locations in Zagreb.  

A week ahead of Pride, conservative MOST Party parliament member Nikola Grmoja complained that commercials displayed during EURO 2020 commercials were LGBTQ propaganda and that kids need to be protected from it and announced that he might include it in his anti-pedophile package. Grmoja's statement caused strong disagreements among the Croatian public, with several people (including celebrities) teasing him that if he wants to start battling pedophilia, he should start from church (as Grmoja is quite clerical). Božo Petrov, president of the MOST party, added more fuel to the fire when he supported Grmoja, stating that „minorities can't dictate what my children can learn in school“. He added that minorities need to be aware that they are minorities and that „we tolerate that," sparking more enrage from the public, with many comparing MOST to the controversial Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Zagreb Pride linked the post-Pride physical attacks with Petrov and Grmoja's public statements, and Petrov and Grmoja announced they would sue Zagreb Pride for slender.


Nikola Grmoja, screenshot N1

The Law: "Gay is OK". Popular opinion: "Do it in your homes, not on the streets".

In this political escalation, what does the average Croatian think? Looking at the comments on social networks, it seems the majority of Croatians don't mind gays being gays and living how they like (even if they are not always happy with legal rights the LGBTQ community received). But, one sentiment in that „tolerance“ is particularly worrying.

„Live in your house however you want it. You don't have to wave around, like its a best thing ever“, said one of the online comments on beneath the news on Petrov and Grmoja.

So it seems the public does not understand why Pride is important. First of all, as evident, the political climate is such that the battle for equality truly isn't over in Croatia, and Pride is the best way for the community to express what issues LGBTQ still face in Croatia. Additionally, pride month is also educational and supportive, and public presence show to other people who feel the same that they are not alone, as they might feel lonely and unable to find people who feel the same in everyday life.


© Zagreb Pride

But, even if the law and constitution give the same rights and solves the problem of intolerance of LGBTQ people completely, does that mean that Pride should then be canceled? Well, Croatia won its independence and the war in the nineties. Does that mean we should stop commemorating the Homeland War? Or is it nice to honor and celebrate the victory and triumph over all obstacles Croatia had to face in its independence? Pride is a cultural, commemorative event honoring those who were or still are victims and oppressed for their sexual preference, either in Croatia or in the world. Croatia is a democratic country. Every group, national, ethnical, racial, religious, etc. should have the right to gather and honor its heroes. The right to gather and honor its tragedies and their dates and connect with other people who feel the same. If political elites are so concerned with keeping Croatians in Croatia, then they can't afford to discriminate or attack part of Croatian society solely based on their sexual preference. A preference that, unlike being violent or intolerable, can't be chosen.

Learn more about LGBT rights in Croatia and what LGBT tourists should know on our TC page.

For more about LGBT in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Friday, 16 August 2019

Xenophobia, Homophobia and Prejudice from Croatian Diplomat in Berlin

As Index/Gordan Duhacek writes on the 16th of August, 2019, a Croatian diplomat from the embassy in Berlin, Elizabeta Mađarević, has been spreading racist, xenophobic and homophobic views on Facebook, and criticises the German chancellor for having a "lack of her own culture".

Croatia begins holding the EU Presidency as of January the 1st, 2020, which Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of course describes as a great honour and a pinnacle of the Croatian state's foreign policy. Plenković speaks about this on almost every occasion possible. The significant of Croatia's EU presidency is also frequently emphasised the new foreign and European affairs minister, Gordan Grlić Radman, who was Plenković's personal choice for the post, who was until recently the Croatian ambassador to Berlin, Germany.

There is no doubt that during Croatia's EU presidency, a good official relationship between Zagreb and Berlin will be even more important than ever, because along side the United Kingdom and France, Germany remains the most powerful member of the European Union, and the success of the Croatian agenda crucially depends on German support. On top of that, Germany also takes over from Croatia in terms of EU presidency in the second half of 2020.

Continuous communication, coordination and good relations between the diplomatic staff of the two countries are therefore extremely important, but Croatia does not seem to understand this, given the fact that the first secretary of the Croatian Embassy in Berlin is Elizabeta Mađarević, who likes to post about a ''white and pure Europe''.

This Croatian diplomat is spreading questionable and prejudice views on her Facebook profile, writing about "white Europe" and how only such a Europe can be "pure", spreading anti-immigrant theories, attacking the rights of the LGBT community, the rather unpleasant list goes on, and then on a bit more. 

In addition, Mađarević has published texts on several internet portals over the years in which she attacks migrants and refugees by presenting them as a threat to Christian Europe, and did not fail to attack the Istanbul Convention and Plenković himself, and, more importantly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In one text, this Croatian ''diplomat'' diagnosed her with having a "lack of her own culture" because of her statement that Islam belongs in Germany.

The fact that such a person is a prominent part of the Croatian diplomatic mission in the German capital should of course cause a scandal and damages Croatia's reputation in Berlin and in the European Union as a whole.

In addition to photographs of the glorious Croatian Adriatic, she wrote in English Croatia as a "Pure and authentic Europe, with only white Europeans"

Let's first look at what she has written on her Facebook page. On August the 8th, she posted photos of the Adriatic and wrote the following in English: ''Pure and authentic Europe. Just white Europeans as it used to be 30 years ago in the while Europe. This should be a good advertisement for vacations. One would think that this is no longer possible but luckily it is.''

It is almost inconceivable for German diplomacy, of all, to have staff who write in such a way about a "white Europe", especially one who uses the word "pure" in such a context, because this is an undoubted expression of racist sentiment, but this certainly doen't appear to present a problem in Croatian diplomacy.

The rhetoric about "white Europe" is characteristic of white nationalists, among other groups, as is the speech about the purity of a nation or race that implies that dark-skinned people are dirty. The slogans about the "white race" and the "purity of Europe" are a standard part of typical neo-Nazi protests, as well as the Facebook profile of the first secretary of the Croatian Embassy in Berlin.

But that isn't all, this Croatian ''diplomat'' also writes about the LGBT community being made up of people with "immorality and psychological disorders''

As well as racism, Mađarević also spreads anti-LGBT propaganda on her Facebook page, writing in one post about LGBT people that "it is possible to heal and get rid of all this immorality and these psychological disorders".

This post, it seems, is a quote from an article she shared from Christian Headlines describing how a drag queen "discovered" Jesus and was ''saved''. Moreover, Mađarević often emphasises her Christianity both on Facebook and in her other texts, and the version she promotes is quite close to the views of contoversial Željka Markić and the association U ime obitelji.

The first secretary of the Croatian Embassy believes that an "Islamisation agenda" is being implemented across Europe, writing on her Facebook page: "Migrants, mostly Muslims, arrive to Europe not just for the social benefits and European passport, which they obtain in incredably [incredibly] short time (in Arab states they would never get the passport or citizenship or any social benefits if they live there for decades!) but also for the political reasons of islamising agenda. Europe, you needs to learn to say no and build your self-respect and Christian identity that has created the most developed parts of the world.''

The Croatian diplomat also shared an article on her Facebook profile from the ultracatholic portal Lifesitenews calling for the Catholic Church to expel all those believers who support a woman's right to abortion.

Lifesitenews is a portal belonging to the Canadian lobbying organisation Campaign Life Coalition, which fights same-sex marriage, sex education in schools, homosexuality, and fornication. Pope Francis is often attacked on this portal, and the fact-checking portal Snopes describes them as "known spreaders of misinformation." Articles from Lifesitenews are often transmitted by Željka Markić, the portal, and the Catholic portal in Croatia.

On the topic of abortion, she linked to an article from Lifesitenews and wrote: ''The Catholic simply cannot be pro-abortion. Lessons-learned from Ireland: For those who claim to be Catholic but who agree with abortion, it is time for the hierachy to act with similar boldness by announcing that these people are no longer Catholic and they should no longer present themselves for Holy Communion, as Godparents, as Confirmation sponsors, or for any other public ministry in the Church.''

One of the favourite topics of Lifesitenews is linking homosexuality with pedophilia, and Mađarević also shared an article about it on Facebook, stating in English: ''How lgbt is tied to pedophilia, a case shows. Mental disorders of cases like this are quite clear as well. Problem is that media likes to call it 'freedom of expression' , and not for what it is.''

The Croatian ''diplomat'' in Germany is also bothered by German law that allows Croats to work in the German police force.

It seems that Germany and German state politics are the most frequent target of the obviously all knowing and lovely Mađarević. In one post, she ironically describes the news from Badische Neuste Nachrichten that in the province of Baden-Württemberg, out of 24,000 police officers, 330 of them aren't German nationals, which is possible under a German law from 1993, as a ''good comedy''. These people are mostly immigrants who have a permanent residence permit and have proven their German language skills.

Mađarević comments this: ''The security of the Germans has been put in the hands of foreigners living in Germany - in order to improve social integration. Obviously, the social integration of foreigners into German society is more important than the safety and welfare of German citizens. There, integration is the key word for everyone. I'm just wondering how a Turkish or Iranian cop will defend a German, and not his Turkish or Iranian compatriot. Loyalty is obviously not so important for integration (that is why European multicultural societies function so perfectly).''

From this status, as well as from texts published by Mađarević on various portals, she does not seem to approve of the idea of ​​integrating aliens into society, because she believes that nations, races and religions should not interfere with each other, but live separately. That makes perfect sense from a Croat living and working in Germany, doesn't it?

Otherwise, in an article from Badische Neuste Nachrichten, which Magarevic shared on her Facebook and attacked the German practice of hiring non-German police officers who have a permanent residence permit, it states that among those 330 police officers there are also Croats, Italians, in Baden-Württemberg. Greeks and Spaniards. But she - in line with the Islamophobic propaganda she is spreading - has highlighted only Turks and Iranians. To make it even more absurd, the first secretary of the Croatian Embassy in Germany attacks German law, which also allowed Croats to get jobs in the German police! Therefore, according to her, these Croats should not be policemen in Germany.

Angela Merkel suffers from a "lack of her own culture'', at least according to Elizabeta.

When it comes to texts published by Mađarević on portals, most of them were published on the Politikaplus portal.

One text asks "How not to become a populist today?" And another offers "a different picture of the immigration crisis", which she describes as "a lack of one's own culture and a clash of cultures." In this text, Mađarević attacks Germany and writes: ''Angela Merkel's statement that Islam is an integral part of German culture points to something else. And that is the lack of a culture of our own, whether we like it or not, related to Christianity.''

Unsurprisingly, she also attacked the Croatian decision to ratifiy the Istanbul Convention.

She describes the Istanbul Convention as a "tragedy" and adds that "new leaders are being sought", which seems to be an attack on the Croatian PM. Mađarević states that "the real question is why the implementation of such a contentious document is being pushed at the cost of its own face, the largest 'democratic' party, that likes to be called a patriotic party'' (in reference to HDZ).

Furthermore, Mađarevic wonders where ''our'' leaders are, where those strong enough to fight for what's important are, and where these ''strong Croatian men'' are, who serve Christ and the Church. She goes on to talk about how such people are rare now.

She obviously doesn't consider Plenković a "strong Croatian man'', but it's doubtful he is losing sleep over what such an individual thinks of him.

But that isn't all! She also describes human rights as "nonexistent", apparently.

Mađarević texts can also be found to qualify human rights as "nonexistent" and she often writes against the idea of ​​universal human rights. There are also problems in her head with the French Revolution and the values ​​that have arisen from it.

She tends to judge even those who just want a good time like normal people. She writes of her stay in the Latvian capital of Riga: "They tell me that the lure of young Swedes to spending a weekend in Riga is great. Alcohol is very cheap here, and the girls love their rich neighbours. So much for Sweden as the exemplary and moral vertical of the European North.''

So, for this Croatian diplomat to have a problem with you, you don't even need to be bisexual, gay, lesbian, a non Christian, someone serving in the German police force, or even Angela Merkel, it's enough for you to just want to have a good time, especially in Riga, to be on her hit list. Lovely, no?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has remained without comment.

Index, of course, wanted to hear the Foreign Ministry's comment on the shocking views expressed by their so called diplomat. They sent an email to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Croatian Embassy in Berlin, but have not yet received any answers.

Index also called the Office of the MVEP Spokesman several times, but no one answered the phone. They then called the Directorate for Europe, but they told them there was nothing they could comment on without spokespersons and instructed them to call the headquarters. They then called the switchboard several times, but each time they were greeted with: "All operators are busy." Index waited on the line until they were cut off. They then called the spokesman again, but nobody answered.

The great scandal of Croatian diplomacy.

Either way, Elizabeta Mađarević is currently the first secretary of the Croatian Embassy in Berlin, which does not currently have an ambassador at her head since Radman Grlić became Minister of Foreign Affairs. Croatia is currently represented in the German capital by a person who expresses shockingly racist and xenophobic attitudes, with a particular dislike for Germany, German society, and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Radman Grlić, with whom she worked closely in Berlin, did not seem to have a problem with this, nor did former Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić, in whose mandate she was sent to Berlin, one of Europe's most multicultural and forward-thinking cities.

Plenković must now intervene.

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