LGBTQ rights activists and groups in Croatia organized this year’s pride parade in two major cities, Zagreb and Split. On Saturday, July 17, the tenth pride parade in Split was held from Bedem Cornaro to Riva. It was attended by Workers Front (RF) leader and member of parliament, Katerina Peovic. In the capital Zagreb, the pride parade was held on July 3. It was attended by the city’s mayor, Tomislav Tomašević, and other politicians from the left including the president of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP), Pedja Grbin. Two incidents of homophobic attacks were reported during the Zagreb pride parade.
Croatian LGBTQ groups have won significant rights and recognition braving several difficulties over the years. However, conservative sections under the leadership of right-wing political parties and the Roman Catholic Church have been vehemently opposing the advancement of LGBTQ rights in the country. Even though the status of same-sex relationships was formally recognized in 2003, a constitutional referendum in 2013 has defined marriage solely as a union between a woman and man, effectively prohibiting same-sex marriages in the country.
According to a report by vice.com, a Croatian MP from the conservative MOST party has announced an attempt to introduce an anti-pedophilia bill, similar to a controversial act passed by the Hungarian parliament in June, to “protect children” from “sexual content and LGBTQ propaganda.” This is when the Life Partnership Act of 2014 provides same-sex couples access to all rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt.
The participation of mayor Tomašević in the Zagreb pride parade has been regarded as historic by LGBTQ rights groups as it was the first time that the mayor of the city participated in a pride march in the event’s 20-year history. Tomašević, leader of Mozemo! (We can!) from the green-left coalition, became the mayor of Zagreb in June 2021.
The homophobic attacks against the pride march in the city were condemned by the activist group Zagreb Pride. On July 8, Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenković also strongly condemned the violence against LGBTQ people.
Following the prime minister’s condemnation, Zagreb Pride stated that “clear and unambiguous condemnation of homophobic violence against the LGBTIQ community and hate crimes is an important move forward. We expect Andrej Plenković’s words about “respect’” and “dialogue” to be transformed into concrete actions and government policies.”
The RF also extended its full support and solidarity to the Pride parades in Split and Zagreb.
As LGBTQ activism advances in regions across the world braving repression and persecution, far-right regimes are placing new hurdles in the path of emancipation of sexual minorities, as can be witnessed in countries like Poland, Hungary, and many others.