Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Zagreb Pride Welcomes Ruling Against Two Homophobes

ZAGREB, 19 July 2022 - The Zagreb Pride NGO has welcomed a trial court ruling that found two members of an amateur singing group from Gudinci, eastern Croatia, guilty of discrimination because they expelled two other members from the group just because they were gay.

The court fully upheld the complaint by the two gay men and fined the two homophobic members of the group HRK 15,000 (€2,000) each, the NGO said on Tuesday.

This fair outcome was possible thanks to the determination and persistence of the two gay men who would not allow being humiliated, insulted, and discriminated against and reported the case to the police, Zagreb Pride said, adding that it had provided all the necessary legal support.

The NGO called on all LGBTIQ persons who have experienced humiliation, harassment, threats, discrimination, or physical violence to contact them for any legal aid or counseling they may need.

For more, check out our politics section.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Zagreb Pride Ride to Take Place on 25 June

ZAGREB, 22 May 2022 - The third Zagreb Pride Ride will take place on 25 June to raise awareness of discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ persons, the Proud Zagreb initiative announced earlier this week, adding that they will not stop fighting for their rights until they achieve full equality.

"As populism and nationalism flourish globally, threatening freedom of choice, our identities join us together into a community in which solidarity is inherent," Proud Zagreb said on the occasion of International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, observed on 17 May.

They said they wanted all members of the LGBTIQ community to know that they were not alone and that their identities were the source of their power.

Despite the efforts by activists and organisations focusing on the protection of the human and civil rights of LGBTIQ persons, only modest progress, if any at all, has been made, said Proud Zagreb member Azra Ayyash.

She warned that LGBTIQ persons were subjected to violence on a daily basis, citing discriminatory messages in the media and on social networks as well as physical attacks. 

Ayyash said that last year attacks had been reported in Zagreb, Rijeka, Kaštel Sućurac and Split but that the actual situation was much worse, in particular in small communities where people fear that their complaints might trigger even worse consequences.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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.

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Monday, 5 July 2021

Petrov and Grmoja announce Lawsuits Against Zagreb Pride

July 4th, 2021 - The president and vice president of the Bridge opposition party on Sunday announced lawsuits against the Zagreb Pride organization, which accused them of spreading intolerance and homophobia and inciting division and hatred.

President Božo Petrov said on Facebook he would file a suit because of the untruths stated, adding that all his life, he had fought violence and condemned violent behavior.

"For days, I have been exposed to attacks just for stating that nobody has the right to impose what my child will learn and how I will raise them. And that it's my legitimate right to protect my child by asking that they be educated based on facts and social consensus. Have I perhaps attacked anyone? Deprived another man or child of a right? I haven't," said Petrov.

He asked what kind of aggressive group did not allow someone to state their view without being attacked.

The party's vice president Nikola Grmoja said Zagreb Pride accused him of sharing the responsibility for the incidents that occurred after Saturday's Pride Parade, calling this an attempt at censorship by equating any criticism of LGBT policies and activist goals with hate and a call to violence.

"I won't agree to that and will defend my right to free speech and to criticize all public stakeholders, including LGBT activists," he said on Facebook, adding that he would take legal action to protect his "constitutional and civil rights. Not just mine, but the rights of all people in democratic Croatia who want to think and speak freely."

Grmoja said that since raising the topic of early sexualization of children, the LGBT propaganda, and pedophilia in Croatian society, he received more threats and insults than ever in his life, as did his family.

"Professional human rights activists, as expected, have not said a word to protect our rights and defend our human dignity," he added.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

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.


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, 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

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.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Several Zagreb Pride Participants Attacked, Five Perpetrators Arrested

ZAGREB, 4 July, 2021- Zagreb police said on Sunday that a number of offences were committed during and after yesterday's Zagreb Pride parade, including punching participants in the face and setting a rainbow flag on fire, and that five persons were arrested.

Police said that around 10.30 pm one woman, 32, and two men, 21 and 22, carrying a rainbow flag, were approached by a number of unknowns, one of whom punched the 22-year-old in the face. They took the flag and set it on fire, after which an unknown woman punched the 21-year-old and the woman in the face.

The three victims sustained light injuries and received medical treatment. Five persons were arrested in connection with this assault and a criminal investigation is under way, police said.

Another incident occurred at 9.15 pm, when a girl of 18 dropped a rainbow flag, after which four unknown men approached, one of whom took the flag and hit her hand with it, after which they took off. A criminal investigation is under way.

Around half past noon, an unknown man in a car stopped two 30-year-old women from passing, verbally attacked them on "sexual orientation grounds" and spat one in the face. A criminal investigation is under way.

Police also said that around 4.20 pm, during the parade, two minors "expressed their non-support of the parade with symbolic messages on their T-shirts." They were brought in for questioning and later released. They will be charged with a misdemeanor.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Zagreb Pride Condemns Most Appalling Attack on LGBTIQ Community in Last 20 Years

ZAGREB, Dec 29, 2020 (Hina) - The Zagreb Pride association issued a statement on Tuesday saying they were appalled by a brutal attack on a 50-year-old gay man.

Citing media reports, the association said that the man was attacked by two persons in Maksimir Park who set him on fire using inflammable liquid. It said that the attack occurred "out of pure homophobic hatred".

Police said they were investigating and confirmed that the assaulted man had been hospitalised. 

Zagreb Pride urged the police to identify the perpetrators and bring criminal charges against them, stressing that they did not want such homophobic violence to go unprosecuted.

The association said they wanted the law enforcement authorities to consistently apply the EU victims of crime directive to reduce secondary victimisation.

It also demanded an urgent and strong response from the police to protect the city's parks, squares and streets from attacks by "rightwing gangs".

"Rightwing violence in the public and online space is targeting not just the LGBTIQ community, but also the Serb, African and Roma communities in Croatia, as well as refugees and migrants," Zagreb Pride said.

TCN reported on the incident earlier today. You can read more in Horrific Hate Crime Reported in Zagreb Against a Gay Man.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Zagreb Pride Says Seeking Change to Constitutional Definition of Marriage

ZAGREB, September 20, 2020 - Organisers of this year's Pride parade in Zagreb on Saturday called on the parliament to act rather than showing timid support, seeking equality and changes to the constitutional definition of marriage to include all types of family.

"We want full equality, we want to finally live in Croatia in freedom and dignity. We have been calling for years on all people to join us in our fight against all forms of discrimination, humiliation, abuse and disregard for our rights and freedoms," representatives of the event's organiser, Zagreb Pride, said during the 19th Pride march.

This year, for the first time, the march started in the city's St. Mark's Square, where the government, parliament and Constitutional Court are located.

Addressing those who rallied for the walk, the organisers said that equality for LGBTIQ persons had to start with the constitution so that it could be reflected in all aspects of life.

"Through constitutional justice, we will achieve political, cultural, economic and social justice for the LGBTIQ community," they said.

They called for launching a procedure to amend the constitution in order to make all families equal in their rights and obligations.

They believe that the time has come for "an unjust and deeply humiliating regulation on the definition of marriage" to be changed so as to include same-sex couples.

After several hundred people gathered in St. Mark's Square for the parade, they went for a walk through downtown Zagreb.

The marchers wore rainbow-coloured protective masks as well as multicoloured flags, umbrellas and other items, trying to comply with rules of physical distancing.

The Pride parade was supported by the We Can! platform, and Workers Front MP Katarina Peovic.

"Freedom is not about banning equal rights for same-sex couples, freedom is not about banning abortion," said Peovic.

Sandra Bencic of We Can! said the platform supported the equality of families and the right of every family to call itself a family.

Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic, who is in charge of social affairs and human rights and who attended the gathering of the Pride marchers in St. Mark's Square, said that he had come to "support tolerance and show respect for diversity in society."


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Saturday, 13 June 2020

Zagreb Pride Parade Delayed Until September 19

ZAGREB, June 13 (Hina) - This year's Zagreb Pride parade will be held on September 19 and not in June as usual, the organisers of the LGBTIQ  rights march announced on Saturday.

"The nineteenth Pride parade of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual and queer persons, our families and friends, which should have taken place today, will march through Zagreb on September 19," Zagreb Pride said in a statement.

Instead of a parade, LGBTIQ activists on Saturday symbolically "occupied" the squares on the usual route of the parade.

"We want to show that we exist and that we are part of this society, that we share its fears and uncertainties as other citizens, that we won our right to public assembly, to our families, to our life partnerships, and made it possible for violence in same-sex unions to be recognised and qualified," the statement said.

The organisers would not agree to the restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic and rather delayed the event until September to "celebrate their difference and freedom, the autonomy of their bodies, their identity, and love."

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