Annual Review 2011
Bias motivated speech
- In March, a Catholic priest Franjo Jurčević was given a three-month suspended sentence for having published on his blog what was considered to be homophobic hate speech in relation to violence at the 2010 Belgrade Gay Pride. Over a hundred people were injured as a result of bias motivated violence against Belgrade Pride.
- Later in the year, a different court found the same priest guilty of discrimination for making homophobic remarks on his blog; he was ordered to publish the verdict in two daily newspapers, remove all homophobic posts from his blog and not to write such things in the future. In July, Vlatko Marković, the President of the Croatian Football Federation, lost his appeal to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and was fined €10,000 for homophobic hate speech. He had said that he would not allow gay players on the Croatian team and expressed the view that “only healthy people play football.”
Bias motivated violence
- The new Criminal Code defi nes hate crime as an aggravating circumstance, but also as a qualified form of certain criminal off enses, such as physical injury, severe physical injury and rape. The definition of hate crimes, which already contained the ground of sexual orientation, has for the first time included gender identity.
- In December, a court in Split issued the first guilty verdict rising out of the violence against Split Pride Parade. A 34 year-old man was given a one year suspended sentence for violent behaviour and violation of the right to assemble. During Pride he had yelled “Kill the fags, motherf**kers, all of you should be killed”. The Court did not believe his claim that his conduct was that of a football fan [hooligan] yelling at opponents as he would at a game, rather than violently protesting against homosexuals. However, the Court did take his regret and good behaviour during the trial into account as a mitigating factor. Twenty-three people were charged with hate crimes arising out of Split Pride Parade. At the end of the year fourteen people had been indicted and five were still under investigation.
There was one reported case of sexual orientation harassment against a professor at the Faculty of Organisation and Informatics of Zagreb University in Varaždin. One judge examining this case was exempted upon a request of the claimant and interveners for previously demonstrated homophobic attitudes. This case is still being heard. In reprisal, the Faculty sanctioned the victim of discrimination according to its own internal ethical procedure for taking this case forward, but not the perpetuators.
Equality and non-discrimination
- In 2010, Croatia was reviewed during the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review process, its report was adopted in 2011. However, no recommendations in relation to LGBT issues were made.
- In October, in its Progress Report on Croatia (SEC(2011) 1200 final), the European Commission commented on the need for more to be done to address homophobic sentiment, to ensure a more eff ective system of human rights protection in practice given that LGBT people continued to face threats and attacks, as evidenced during Split Pride Parade.
- In December, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the accession of Croatia to the European Union calling on the future Member State to adopt an Action Plan on the rights of LGBT people. The Parliament’s call paid particular attention to the violence at the Split Pride Parade.
Freedom of assembly
- The State authorities failed to ensure peaceful freedom of assembly of LGBT people resulting in severe violent attacks at the fi rst Pride Parade held in Split in June. Despite open calls for violence prior to the Split Pride and calls from human rights NGOs for investigation, State authorities did not act upon the calls and did not take any action or provide an answer. The 300 participants in the Parade were faced with numerous groups of protesters, who threw a combination of explosive devices, Molotov cocktails, faeces, stones, and other objects at the marchers as they attempted to navigate the Parade route. Nearly all participants were injured, Police Officers did not make serious eff orts to protect the Pride participants and no timely evacuation was organised once it became clear that one was necessary for the safety of participants. The President and Prime Minister of Croatia condemned the violence and over a hundred anti-LGBT protesters were arrested. Pride organisers and a former Minister of Interior said that the police ignored signs leading up to the event that violence was imminent, and did not properly prepare to protect the participants. Human rights defenders called for the resignation of the Minister of Interior Tomislav Karamarko, but he refused to resign, claiming that he had done everything within his power to prevent the violence.
- In June, Zagreb held its tenth annual Pride Parade, a week after violence marred the Pride parade in Split. With over 1,000 participants, it was the largest Pride ever held in Zagreb, and, for the fi rst time in 4 years, proceeded without violence or any major homophobic/transphobic incident.
Sexual and reproductive rights
In October, the Minister of Health Darko Milinović stood by his statement that medically assisted reproduction is not for same-sex couples. According to his interpretation, such fertility treatment is for couples who cannot have children due to disease or dysfunction of their reproductive organs and not because of their sexual orientation which is not a disease.