Unsafe pride event in Croatia casts shadow over accession prospects

On 11 June, the first LGBT pride march in Split, Croatia, was met with violence from a crowd of an estimated 2,000-10,000 right-wing extremists. The police failed to protect participants adequately; at least six activists and journalists were taken to the hospital after stones, ashtrays and other hard projectiles were thrown at them.

Pride in Split, Croatia

Pride in Split, Croatia (credits: "LGBTQ Nation")

The pride procession, which included pregnant Member of the European Parliament Marije Cornelissen (Greens/EFA, Netherlands), faced hateful shouts such as “Kill the faggots”, and arrays of Nazi salutes. The police did not keep protestors at a safe distance from marchers, and projectiles hit at least six people. Initial reports point to police forces being unprepared, and implicitly helping protesters by purposedly letting them close to participants.

These events took place one day after the President of the European Commission announced he would propose that the EU and Croatia conclude accession talks, with a view for the Western Balkan Republic to join the European Union by July 2013. This accession requires that Croatia be declared level with EU standards in several areas, including fundamental rights and the protection of minorities.

Marije Cornelissen MEP, Member of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, declared after the march: “I never expected that it would go this wrong. The violence in Split today shows that Croatia still has a lot to do to properly protect human rights. I hope that the authorities realise that until they actually join in 2013, they must join forces with LGBT organisations to firmly combat homophobia in Croatia.”

Ulrike Lunacek, Greens/EFA MEP and Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, added: “Yesterday’s outbreak of homophobic hatred and violence shows that European values—including freedom of assembly and the protection of all minorities—are not yet fully at home in a country two years away from joining the EU. Therefore it will be necessary that before the end of negotiations, there is an agreement between government, parliament and civil society organisations over a concrete and transparent monitoring mechanism for the provision of justice and the protection of fundamental rights.”

The Intergroup on LGBT Rights will ask the European Commission how these events reflect on current accession talks.

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