Zagreb Pride

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2007 Zagreb Pride

Zagreb Pride is the LGBT pride march in the city of Zagreb, capital of Croatia, with first taking place in 2002. Zagreb Pride is the first successful pride march that took place in Southeast Europe, and has become an annual event.[1] Zagreb Pride members claim their work is inspired by the Stonewall Riots and Gay Liberation Front.[2]

It is self-identified as LGBT march and therefore in 2003 changed its name was changed from Gay Pride Zagreb into Zagreb Pride.[3] The Pride is organized by volunteer-based and grass-roots Zagreb Pride Organizing Committee that is formed in January of the new Pride year. The Pride Committee is a non-hierarchical group of individuals and it is logistically supported by Zagreb Pride Organization founded in 2008 as a non-governmental organization.[4] Pride receives funding from the City of Zagreb and[5] a number of international human rights organizations and embassies.[6][7]

Zagreb Pride Organization is a member of InterPride, EPOA, IGLYO, ILGA-Europe and in 2010, together with Lesbian Organization Rijeka and Queer Zagreb, it was the founding member of Croatian first national LGBT association - Center for LGBT Equality.[8][9]

The event usually consists of a Pride March through the city center with banners, flags, and shouted slogans, followed by a gathering at Zrinjevac Park where speeches are given by LGBTIQ activists. In some years "pre-program" events are held in the days leading up to the march. Each year the organizers adopt a theme and a collection of principles and values called the "Pride platform", which is designed to be reflected in the march, speeches, and publicity for the event.[10]

Since 2011, Pride Week has been established, with various of daily political, activist and social events, all related to the Pride theme. During the Pride Week, Zagreb's legalized squat AKC Medika is turned into the "Pride House".[11][12]

Zagreb Pride, Ljubljana Pride and Belgrade Pride are each other's "sister prides".[13][14][15]



On 29 June 2002 the very first Pride march of sexual and gender minorities took place in Zagreb’s park Zrinjevac. Gay Pride Zagreb 2002 was entitled "Iskorak KONTRA predrasuda" (Coming out against prejudice). Approximately 300 individuals participated, including some of the top state officials.

Sometime around 9am, just before the gathering, unknown attackers beat up Croatian theatre director Mario Kovač, who was supposed to be Pride’s master of ceremonies.[7] As the gathering progressed, homophobic opponents to Gay Pride Zagreb rallied at the western side of Zrinjevac Park, yelling "Go to Serbia", "Kill the Serb", "Fags to concentration camps", "Heil Hitler", "Sieg heil", "Die", and "We are Aryan", and then invoked the name of Franjo Tuđman.[7] Some of them tried to jump over the iron fence put up at Zrinjevac Park, but were prevented from doing so. Throughout the gathering the police used video cameras to record it.[7] As the gathering was coming to an end, tear gas was thrown at the Pride crowd assembled at Zrinjevac.[7][16]

Most citizens managed to leave the gathering peacefully, and security and police vehicles took the speakers to safety. However, it was then that the bullies started rounding the city center and attacking participants of the gathering, as well as passers-by. During and after the gathering, some 20 people were attacked and injured. The police brought in 27 disorderly persons (11 as a preventive measure, 10 for disorderly conduct, and 6 in order to establish their identity).[7]

Several skinheads who threatened them and cursed them, which led to another police intervention, met the organizers of the event, who after the gathering attempted to take the props to a van that was waiting for them in Đorđić Street. The organizers left the gathering with the help of the police.[7]

Following the gathering, approximately 20 citizens were beaten up in about ten incidents.[7] Net club Mama was attacked. According to Teodor Celakoski, manager of the Mama club, seven skinheads stormed into the club, receiving instructions on where to go via the cell phone.[7] Upon their arrival, they started to harass people, asking them who had gone to the Gay Pride. They randomly chose three people and beat them up.[7] After the gathering, nine attackers attacked the guests of Močvara in Tomić Street.[7] Most commentators agree that had it not been for the police cordon, the gathering would have ended in an explosion of violence.[7]


The fourth Pride in 2005 was organized by a feminist group Epikriza, and it promoted a registered partnership law proposed by two Sabor members, one of Social Democratic Party and one liberal independent member. It was the first Pride not organized by its Pride Committee.

At the beginning of June, most prominent LGBTIQ group Iskorak ("Coming out", also can be translated as "Step forward"), which has been that year's logistic support, announced that its activists would not organize Pride before the summer break, also stating that the Pride march was irritating citizens of Zagreb by blocking the public transport for a few minutes, and that Pride was at that time useless to the LGBTIQ community in Croatia.[17] They proposed that a concert with "big names" outside of city center would be more appropriate, but it was never organised. Instead Iskorak's Pride project was replaced with the Coming Out project.[18]

With just a few weeks of preparations and about US$1,500,[17] an informal and until that day unknown feminist group Epikriza organized a small march in July with about 100 people and without any program.[19] The group got media support and advices from former Pride organizers not involved with Iskorak,[20] and logistical and financial support by Kontra and Center for peace studies.[19]


Pride held in 2006 was the first international pride, as it had a regional character and it was organized in support to those participants coming from countries where the sociopolitical climate is not ripe for the organization of Pride events and where such a manifestation is expressly forbidden by the authorities. The international event took place from June 22 to June 26, and brought together representatives from 13 countries. From those participating only Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Latvia have organized Prides until that year, with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovakia and Lithuania never having Prides before. However, this has changed, and some of them successfully organised Prides since then. The attempt to organize such an event in Belgrade, Serbia in 2001, ended in a bloody showdown between the police and the counter-protesters, with the participants heavily beaten up.[21]


The 10th Zagreb Pride is considered to be a turning point in Pride's history. As a result of chaos at Split Pride this Pride was emphatically supported by the media and politicians. The media led the campaign to support the LGBT community, calling everyone to "march in the upcoming Zagreb Pride". Four days before the Zagreb Pride march the organizers met with President Ivo Josipović. A week after the Split Pride, the 10th Zagreb Pride march took place. Around 4000 people marched while many of the bystanders resoundingly supported the LGBT community. It was the biggest Pride rally in Croatia at the time and took place with no violence thanks to efficient police protection.[22][23]


The 11th Zagreb Pride followed much the same pattern. It attracted even more participants than the one the previous year and transpired free of violence. It was reported that the number of police officers securing the Pride was lower than during previous years' events. The organizers did not hide their satisfaction with this Pride, saying that the difference and the progress between the first Pride in 2002 and this one was magnificent. The motto of the march was "We have a family! The thousand-year-old Croatian dream!"[24][25][26]


The 12th Zagreb Pride took place on 15 June 2013, attracting a record-breaking 15,000 participants. It was supported by many celebrities, NGOs, and politicians, including Vesna Pusić, Mirela Holy, and prime minister's wife Sanja Musić Milanović. The motto of the march was "This is a country for all of us", and it was a direct reaction to the initiative introduced by the right-wing organisation called "In the name of the family" (Croatian: U ime obitelji), that would limit the name "marriage" to heterosexual couples by introducing a constitutional amendment through a referendum. The initiative was backed by the Church and other right-wing organisations and political parties. Many who were against it decided to support Zagreb Pride, making it almost four times bigger than the one in 2012. The Government officially opposed the possible referendum, and announced it will send the referendum question to the Constitutional court for a review. The Pride went without a single incident, with many bystanders supporting it. Mile Kekin, a frontman of the Croatian punk rock band Hladno pivo was named a "homofriend" of the year.[27][28][29]

Political impact

Since the first Pride held in Croatia LGBT rights and acceptance of LGBT persons have seen significant progress. In 2003, one year after the first LGBT pride in Croatia, then ruling coalition consisted of mostly centre-left parties, managed to come to an agreement and passed a law on same-sex unions. The law granted same-sex partners who have cohabited for at least 3 years similar rights as those enjoyed by unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex partners in terms of inheritance and financial support. However, it excluded adoptions rights or any other right included in the family code as this law was not part thereof, but rather a separate piece of legislation. Registering those relationships was not allowed nor did they include the right to make a joint declaration of taxes, property, health insurance, pensions etc.[30][31] Despite this law being more symbolic rather than practical, it was considered as a milestone in the Croatian legal system as it was the first to recognize the existence of same-sex relationships.

On 11 May 2012, Croatian prime minister Zoran Milanović announced a further expansion of rights for same-sex relationships with the equivalent rights and responsibilities to those of marriage with the exception of adoption. Sabor passed Life Partnership Act on 15 July 2014, which replaced the law on same-sex relationships passed in 2003. This law made same-sex couples equal to married couples in everything except adoption. However, an institution similar to step-child adoption called partner-guardian has been created.[32][33]

Croatia also prohibits all discrimination against LGBT individuals through several laws:

  • Penal Code (includes hate crime legislation and "racial and other discrimination")
  • Gender Equality Law
  • Criminal Procedure Law
  • Law on Science and Higher Studies
  • Media Law
  • Electronic Media Law (anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression)
  • Life Partnership Act
  • Labour Code
  • Sport Law
  • Asylum Law
  • The Law on volunteering (anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression)[34]

On 1 January 2013 the new Penal Code was introduced with the recognition of hate crimes based on gender identity.[35]

Political support for LGBT rights in Croatia is significant. At the time of the first Pride, coalition consisted of mostly centre-left parties was in power, providing support for future expansion of rights. However, one member of this coalition was also HSS, which strongly opposes LGBT rights. Most of the members of the coalition initially proposed registered partnerships for same-sex couples, but HSS insisted for this to be dropped as a condition for their continued support of the coalition. Concessions had to be made and the parties agreed on unregistered cohabitation for same-sex couples.[36]

In 2003 a parliamentary elections was held, and the right-wing HDZ won the majority of seats. HDZ opposes LGBT rights, but they have enacted several laws that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as part of the negotiation process prior to the European Union. They remained in power until late 2011 when the centre-left Kukuriku coalition won the election.

Former Croatian President Ivo Josipović provides strong support for full LGBT rights, along with many other celebrities and centre-left political parties such as SDP, HNS, HSLS, Green List, and Labour Party. He was one of the most prominent supporters for LGBT rights even before he was elected president. Following his election he has met with LGBT associations several times expressing support.

Vesna Pusić, a member of HNS, is very popular among Croatian LGBTs, and was voted the "gay friendly person of the decade" by the LGBT community. As a government member she has been actively involved in improving LGBT rights. A member of SDP and former Minister of Environment and Nature Protection in the Kukuriku coalition Mirela Holy has been a notable supporter of LGBT rights for years. She has participated in every Croatian LGBT pride to date. Other supporters of LGBT rights in Croatia are actor Rade Šerbedžija, Danijela Trbović, Drago Pilsel, Šime Lučin, Ivo Banac, Furio Radin, Darinko Kosor, Iva Prpić, Đurđa Adlešič, Vesna Teršelič, Lidija Bajuk, Mario Kovač, Nina Violić, former prime minister Ivica Račan's widow Dijana Pleština, Maja Vučić, Gordana Lukač-Koritnik, pop group E.N.I etc. Hundreds of public figures have thus far expressed support for LGBT rights.[37][38]

In 2012, Zagreb Pride formed an LGBT parents group whose representatives met President Ivo Josipović,[39] and spoke at the 2012 pride march.[40]

Zagreb Pride Pride History
Year Dates Pride name Motto Theme Estimated attendance
2002 June 29 Gay Pride Zagreb 2002 Coming Out AGAINST prejudices (Iskorak KONTRA Predrasuda) Coming out 350
2003 June 28 Zagreb Pride 2003 Proud Again (Opet ponosno) Anti-discrimination legislation 300
2004 June 19 LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2004 Vive la difference (Živjela različitost) Catholic church homophobia and transgender rights 300
2005 July 10 Zg Pride 2005 Proud Together (Ponosne/i zajedno) Registered Partnership Act 100
2006 June 24 LGBTIQ Pride March Internacionala Pride 2006, Zagreb To Live Freely (in 13 languages) (local: Živ(j)eti slobodno) Freedom of assembling 250
2007 July 7 LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2007 All to the Pride! Everybody to the Pride! (Svi na Pride! Sve na Pride!) The visibility of LGBTIQ persons and the symbolic “takeover” of public spaces 400
2008 June 28 LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2008 You Have the Courage! (Imaš hrabrosti!) Power of togetherness 600
2009 June 13 LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2009 for the Open City - Stonewall 40 Participate! (Sudjeluj!) Participation for building a Zagreb LGBTIQ community 800
2010 June 19 LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2010 Croatia Can Swallow That (Hrvatska to može progutati) Freedom of sexual expression and variety of sexual practices 1200
2011 June 18 LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2011 The Future is Ours! (Budućnost je naša!) First 10 prides and future that they bring 3800
2012 June 16 LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2012 We have Family! A Millennium of Croatian Dreaming (Imamo obitelj, tisućljetni hrvatski san) LGBTIQ families 4000
2013 June 15 LGBTIQ and family Pride March Zagreb Pride 2013 This is a country for all of us (Ovo je zemlja za sve nas) Protest march against the referendum initiative for the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage 15000
2014 June 14 LGBTIQ and family Pride March Zagreb Pride 2014 On the right side of the history (Na pravoj strani povijesti) Widening the space for struggle: solidarity with social groups whose rights are endangered with the rise of radical and clerical right-wing agenda 5000
2015 June 13 LGBTIQ and family Pride March Zagreb Pride 2015 Louder and braver: Anti-fascism without compromise! (Glasnije i hrabrije-Antifašizam bez kompromisa) Anti-fascism. Fight against: discrimination of minorities, the radicalization of society through the glorification of the fascist Ustashe movement and the right wing ideology, exclusivity, chauvinism and single-mindedness. 5000

Other LGBT Prides in Croatia

Split was the second city in Croatia to have its LGBT Pride with first one taking place in 2011, and Osijek the third with its pride taking place on 6 September 2014.[41][42][43]

See also


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External links