Saturday, 2 October 2021

Smoqua Queer Festival Rijeka: A Safe Space for Diversity

October 2, 2021 - The fifth edition of the Smoqua Queer Festival Rijeka is set to celebrate diversity from October 7-9.

Culture, art, and interesting content mixed with the advocation of rights for sexual minorities, citizens and visitors of Rijeka are once again in for a queer culture treat as the fifth edition of the Smoqua festival of queer and feminist culture will take place from October 7-9.

''With our hearts full, we're announcing the 5th edition of Smoqua that will win you over with its diverse content, inspiring people, and warm atmosphere. LORI, together with our dear partners PaRiter and GSG, invite all persons of goodwill, an open mind and heart to join us in the new edition of joint reflection, conversation, mingling…'' says the Facebook description of the event.

As in previous years, Smoqua reminds visitors that they are offering a safe space for people that are different. For those that don't fit into gender and sex norms and boxes, but also those who are in need of open conversations, discussions, gaining new knowledge, and are curious about new realisations.

The 2021 edition is lead by a theme titled ''Uncharted territories''. In that spirit, Smoqua's events will explore the boundaries of the physical and the material within patriarchal structures, with the question of the body being the starting point. Activists and artists from all over Europe (the UK, Greece, Serbia, Poland, and France, to name a few) will participate in the programme. You canssee the whole programme as well as the venues and locations of all of the events here.

''Let’s dive together into queer and feminist culture through performances, an exhibition, discussions, workshops, lectures, a theatre play, the Queer-UP! Party and other various activities,'' says Smoqua.

The main organiser, the LORI association, is a Lesbian Organisation from Rijeka. Founded way back in October 2000, the organisation aims to inform and sensitise the public to accept sexual and gender minorities, as well as eradicate prejudice and homo/bi/transphobia. In a nutshell, their aim is to totally eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender/sex identity and/or gender expression and secure full equality under the law.

As TCN previously wrote, Croatia is rated to be the 39th most popular country for LGBTQ visitors in the world. In the summer of 2021, a famous actor and gay icon, Neil Patrick Harris visited the lovely Croatian Island of Hvar. 2021 and 2020, however, were also sadly noted for homophobic incidents.

From burning a gay effigy during an Imotski carnival in February 2020, a physical attack in Zagreb's Maksimir Park against a gay man, as well as several incidents against the participants during the 2021 Zagreb Gay Pride, Croatia isn't without its issues in this regard.

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

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

European Parliament For Recognising Same-Sex Marriage Across EU

ZAGREB, 14 Sept, 2021 - A majority of members of the European Parliament on Tuesday endorsed a draft resolution seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages and registered partnerships in all member states.

The draft was endorsed by 387 MEPs, 161 voted against and 123 abstained.

The resolution says same-sex spouses and partners should be treated equally as heterosexual ones, and that marriages and partnerships concluded in one EU member state should be recognised in all.

Of the Croatian MEPs, the draft was endorsed by Biljana Borzan, Predrag Matić and Tonino Picula of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Valter Flego of the Istrian Democratic Party.

Independent Mislav Kolakušić and conservative Ladislav Ilčić were against, while Sunčana Glavak, Karlo Ressler, Tomislav Sokol and Željana Zovko of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) abstained.

Ivan Vilibor Sinčić (Human Shield) did not vote as he was in Rome, and Romana Jerković (SDP) could not because of technical difficulties, but her office told Hina that she "supports this resolution."

Speaking to Hina, Matić said the adoption of the resolution was a "civilisational achievement", while Flego said it was unacceptable that LGBTIQ rights were being reduced instead of advanced in many countries, and that it was time to "finally give everyone equal rights."

Ilčić told Hina the resolution "is consciously trying to equate the legal status of same-sex couples in all member states, thus negating the right of the states to independently decide which unions they will recognise and which they won't."

"That would mean that the whole EU must follow the most liberal states to avoid alleged discrimination, which is absurd, contrary to the treaties and the subsidiarity principle," he said, adding that the LGBT lobby was exerting enormous pressure on the European institutions.

The resolution also calls on the European Commission to take action against Romania, Hungary and Poland for violating LGBTIQ rights and fundamental EU values.

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

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Aminess Hotels and Korčula Mayor Condemn Incident of Homophobia

ZAGREB, 14 August, 2021 - The Aminess Hotels and Campsites company and Korčula Mayor Nika Silić Maroević on Friday strongly condemned the incident of homophobia that occurred last weekend near the town of Korčula.

"We express our sympathy to the victims, hoping that such incident will not happen again. We distance ourselves from any form of violence and discrimination and find such behaviour unacceptable," the Aminess Hotels and Campsites company said in a press release after an incident in which a group of LGBTIQ friends from several foreign countries were made to leave the Lost in the Renaissance festival.

The company stresses that Aminess Hotels and Campsites are in no way related to the programme or organisation of the festival. Aminess merely provided accommodation for the performers at the festival. Therefore, Aminess is in no way linked to the incident that occurred, and it strongly condemns it.

Korčula Mayor Nika Silić Maroević also condemned the insulting of the foreign guests, and  expressed her sincere regret over the incident.

"The City of Korčula strongly condemns the incident that occurred during the Lost in Renaissance festival at The Boogie Jungle Korčula Club," the mayor wrote in a response to the developments concerning the seven foreign guests that were made to leave the festival.

She also said that the City would resolutely oppose all forms of violence and hate speech, as well as racial, religious and sexual discrimination, in the fight for equality, human dignity and the safety of all its citizens and tourists.

The mayor also stressed that the City of Korčula was not responsible for the events in the club, expressing hope that such incidents will not happen again.

Earlier on Friday, Zagreb Pride, the NGO that promotes the rights of LGBTIQ persons, reported on the incident, citing the victims' report. They claim that security guards forcibly separated them, poured water on them and then drove them out of the venue, pushing them.

The victims reported this case of homophobia to Zagreb Pride, the organisers of the Lost in the Renaissance festival, the management of the Aminess Hotels, as well as the City of Korčula since the festival receives support from the city budget as a cultural event and is sponsored by the local tourist board.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page. 

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Zagreb Pride Reports Homophobic Incidents on Korčula Island

ZAGREB, 13 Aug 2021 - A group of queer friends from several countries were thrown out of the Lost in the Renaissance festival on the southern Adriatic island of Korčula last weekend in an incident motivated by homophobia, Zagreb Pride reported on Friday.

According to Zageb Pride, at the end of the first day of the festival, held in The Jungle Club, outside Korčula town, one of the bouncers separated by force two young men who were dancing holding each other. The bouncer ordered: "No kissing, just dancing!"

Shortly after that, another bouncer poured a bottle of water onto another two young men who were napping on a bench in each other's arms. In the end, the bouncers kicked the young men out, Zagreb Pride said.

The homophobic incidents were reported to Zagreb Pride, the organisers of the Lost in the Renaissance festival, the Aminess Hotel management and the Korčula town authorities.

Zagreb Pride said nobody reacted to the reported incidents.

Zagreb Pride also recalled another incident that took place in June in Zagreb where two Spanish women, during their business stay in Croatia's capital, suffered lesbophobic insults from Zagreb residents.

For more news, CLICK HERE.

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 History.com.

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.

skin_arrest.jpg

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 Index.hr, 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_lgbt_article.jpg

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 Index.hr 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_fotka_druga.jpg

© 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

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Zagreb Pride: Outbreak of Homophobic Violence for First Time in 10 Yrs

ZAGREB, 4 July, 2021 - The Zagreb Pride organisation said on Sunday that yesterday, for the first time in ten years, an outbreak of homophobic violence occurred on the day of the LGBTIQ community's Pride Parade in Zagreb.

Zagreb Pride said in a press release the "outbreak of homophobic-fascist violence" consisted of "a series of attacks, arson and insults in different parts of the city."

It expects the police to treat all the attacks as hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation and not as misdemeanors for disturbing the peace.

The organisation said it had contacted some of the victims and that it would extend legal and other support "in the criminal procedure because the perpetrators (of one attack) have been arrested."

Describing another attack, Zagreb Pride said that a young lesbian was attacked after the parade by four men who noticed her rainbow flag. They grabbed the flag, hit her, threw her to the ground and took off, it added.

According to the organisation, several incidents involving threats, intimidation and vulgar outbursts have not been reported. It called on victims to contact them and report the attacks with the organisation's help.

"Violence against LGBTIQ persons on the streets of Zagreb and other cities, notably Rijeka, is again becoming a serious problem for our society," the press release said.

LGBTIQ youth, who are the most frequent victims of such public violence, will never agree to live in the closet, as they loudly showed at the Pride Parade yesterday, Zagreb Pride said.

"They have lived their entire lives in a society in which our struggle has opened the spaces of their freedom. Every LGBTIQ person in Croatia has the right to live freely, be visible and themselves, wave the rainbow flag, hug and kiss in the street."

Zagreb Price said they had secured visibility and that this would never change. "We will never go back to the silence and the closet, we will never again lower our heads before these cowardly scoundrels. It's time the aggressive homophobic minority realises it has been defeated."

The organisation said "there is no doubt" that recent statements by MPs Nikola Grmoja and Božo Petrov, "spreading intolerance, homophobia, inciting divisions and hate," had contributed to Saturday's incidents.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Mayor: Detained Zagreb Administration Employees Temporarily Sacked

ZAGREB, 3 July 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Saturday, after corruption-related arrests earlier this week, that the city administration employees placed in investigative detention would be temporarily terminated.

He told the press that he had warned about the way in which public spaces in Zagreb were leased back when he was a city councillor, announcing that the City Assembly would now change the necessary decisions and rules.

Tomašević said that one of the new city administration's moves had been to appoint an entirely new commission which decided on the lease of public spaces, adding that the old commission "was very problematic."

Asked if he thought there would be more arrests in the city administration, he said, "I think there will be and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg." He added that the trials should be as brief as possible to see if those arrested were guilty or not.

Zagreb is an open city

Tomašević was speaking to the press at the 20th Zagreb Pride Parade.

"We wish to say as the new administration that Zagreb is an open city celebrating all differences, and that no one can be discriminated against on any grounds, including sexual orientation."

He said this was the first time that a Zagreb mayor was attending Pride. "It took 20 years, too long if you ask me."

Tomašević recalled that he marched in the first Pride as a private citizen, later as a city councillor last year as an MP, and now as the mayor.

He labelled as dangerous some politicians' statements about the LGBT community this week, saying that scoring cheap political points on minorities in 21st century Croatia was pathetic.

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

Saturday, 3 July 2021

20th Zagreb Pride Parade Begins

ZAGREB, 3 July 2021 - A Pride Parade with about 100 participants started off at Roosevelt Square in downtown Zagreb at 3.30 pm on Saturday, marking the 20th LGBTIQ march in Zagreb under the motto "Pride Forever".

Participants are carrying rainbow-coloured signs, flags, clothes and props as well as banners reading "Love doesn't ask what's under the skirt/pants", "Faggots are workers too" and "Homosexual from head to toe".

A political rally called "Twenty prides together in comradeship and resistance" is scheduled for 5.30 pm at Ribnjak Park.

This year's Pride is one of the first mass gatherings to be held under COVID rules that went into force on 1 July, under which participants in larger gatherings must have digital COVID certificates. Dozens of wardens at Roosevelt Square checked if they did.

 For more about a life of LGBTIQ and other communities in Croatia, follow our lifestyle section.

Friday, 2 July 2021

HSLS Condemns Grmoja's Statement about Paedophiles and LGBT Persons in Same Context

ZAGREB, 2 July 2021 - The HSLS party on Friday condemned a statement by Bridge MP Nikola Grmoja who expressed disgruntlement over the promotion of sexual minority rights and linked the LGBT community to paedophilia.

"Tolerance and intolerance are two opposites that best symbolise two Europes today, a democratic one with liberal principles of freedom, equality and tolerance as part of their state policies, and an undemocratic one led by Orban's policies of intolerance and discrimination," HSLS leader Dario Hrebak said in a press release.

He said that in that kind of Europe there are two mutually opposite Croatias, one that belongs to the EU with its values and the other which is represented by "Orban's poltroons," which is the group that "Grmoja obviously belongs to," who are bothered by democracy and the values it consists of.

HSLS, which is part of the ruling coalition considers that the purpose of political institutions is peaceful conflict resolution between individuals, protecting individuals from any form of oppression and finding solutions to political problems that would be in accordance with the wishes and interests of individuals.

Democracy is not only its institutions but values it is founded on, and the relationship towards minorities in fact shows how a society puts its democratic values into practice, said Hrebak.

We must never stop fighting against backward ideas because by condemning them and clearly distancing ourselves from them, we are protecting democracy and its institutions, he added.

Grmoja on Wednesday announced that he would put forward and anti-phaedophile bill that would also ban "LGBT propaganda" being spread to minors.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated politics page.

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