Zagreb Pride (Croatian: Zagrebačka povorka ponosa) is the annual LGBTIQ+ pride march in the city of Zagreb (Croatia'scapital), which first took place in 2002, as the first successful pride march in Southeast Europe. Zagreb Pride organizers claimed their work was inspired by the Stonewall Riots and the Gay Liberation Front.
This article needs to be updated.(May 2021)
It is self-identified as LGBTIQ+ march and therefore in 2003 changed its name from Gay Pride Zagreb into Zagreb Pride. The Pride was organized by volunteer-based and grass-roots Organizing Committee that was formed each year. The Pride Committee was a non-hierarchical group of individuals. Through the years, Zagreb Pride was logistically supported by different organizations, including: Multimedia Institute, Iskorak, Kontra, CMS and many others. A new organization founded in 2008 as a non-governmental organization Zagreb Pride that also registered the use of the name as a brand. The organization is a member of InterPride, EPOA, IGLYO, ILGA-Europe and in 2010, together with Lesbian Organization Rijeka and Domino, it was the founding member of Croatian first national LGBT association, Center for LGBT Equality (Croatian: Centar za LGBT ravnopravnost). Pride receives funding from the City of Zagreb and a number of international human rights organizations and embassies.
The event usually consists of a Pride March through the city center with banners, flags, and shouted slogans, followed by a gathering at the Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square 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.
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 was turned into the "Pride House".
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 9:00, just before the gathering, unknown attackers beat up Croatian theatre director Mario Kovač, who was supposed to be Pride's master of ceremonies. As the gathering progressed, homophobic opponents to Gay Pride Zagreb rallied at the western side of Zrinjevac, 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. Some of them tried to jump over the iron fence put up at Zrinjevac, but were prevented from doing so. Throughout the gathering, the police used video cameras to record it. As the gathering was coming to an end, tear gas was thrown at the Pride crowd assembled at Zrinjevac.
Most citizens managed to leave the gathering peacefully, and security and police vehicles took the speakers to safety. However, following the gathering, approximately 20 citizens were beaten up in about ten incidents. Multimedia Institute's public space net.culture club MaMa was attacked, as it was co-organizer and host location with address listed on the poster (for pre-program and organizing work). According to Teodor Celakoski, manager of the Mama club, seven skinheads stormed into the club, receiving instructions on where to go via the mobile phone. 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. After the gathering, nine attackers attacked the guests of Močvara in the Tomić Street. Most commentators agree that had it not been for the police cordon, the gathering would have ended in an explosion of violence. The police brought in 27 disorderly persons (11 as a preventive measure, 10 for disorderly conduct, and 6 in order to establish their identity).
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.
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 LGBT+ group Iskorak (name stands for 'coming out' and 'step forward' in Croatian), 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. They proposed that a concert with "big names" outside of city center would be more appropriate, but it was never organized. Instead, Iskorak's Pride project was replaced with the Coming Out project.
With just a few weeks of preparations and about US$1,500, an informal and until that day unknown feminist group Epikriza organized a small march in July with about 100 people and without any program. The group got media support and advice from former Pride organizers not involved with Iskorak, and logistical and financial support by Kontra and the Center for Peace Studies.
Pride held in 2006 was the first international pride. It had a regional character and was organized in support of 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. From June 22 to June 26, the international event took place 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 have successfully organized 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.
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 4,000 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.
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!"
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 Zoran Milanović'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 organization called U ime obitelji (In the Name of the Family), that would limit the term "marriage" to heterosexual communities by introducing a constitutional amendment through a referendum. The initiative was backed by the Catholic Church and other right-wing organizations and political parties. Many of those 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.
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 center-left parties and managed to agree 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 adoption 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. 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, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović announced a further expansion of rights for same-sex relationships with the equivalent rights and responsibilities to those of marriage except for adoption. Sabor passed the 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 stepchild adoption called partner-guardian has been created.
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)
On 1 January 2013, the new Penal Code was introduced with the recognition of hate crimes based on gender identity.
Political support for LGBT rights in Croatia is significant. At the time of the first Pride, coalition consisted of mostly center-left parties was in power, providing support for future expansion of rights. However, one member of this coalition was also the Croatian Peasant Party (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.
In 2003, a parliamentary election was held, and the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won the majority of seats. HDZ opposes LGBT rights, but they have enacted several laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as part of the negotiation process before joining the European Union. They remained in power until late 2011 when the centre-left Kukuriku coalition won the election.
Third Croatian President Ivo Josipović provides strong support for full LGBT rights, along with many other celebrities and center-left political parties such as Social Democratic Party (SDP), Croatian People's Party (HNS), Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), the Green List, and the Workers Party. He was one of the most prominent supporters of 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 LGBT community, 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 Rade Šerbedžija, Drago Pilsel, Ivo Banac, Furio Radin, Darinko Kosor, Đurđa Adlešič, Vesna Teršelič, Lidija Bajuk, Mario Kovač, Nina Violić, former Prime Minister Ivica Račan's widow Dijana Pleština, pop group E.N.I., Severina Vučković, Vlatka Pokos, Luka Nižetić, Franka Batelić, Arsen Bauk, Peđa Grbin, Tomislav Tomašević, Boris Milošević etc. Hundreds of public figures have thus far expressed support for LGBT rights.
Zagreb 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 (Written in 13 languages) (Živjeti slobodno)||Freedom of assembly||250|
|2007||July 7||LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2007||All to the Pride! (Written in masculine and feminine) (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||1.200|
|2011||June 18||LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2011||The Future is Ours! (Budućnost je naša!)||First 10 prides and future that they bring||3.800|
|2012||June 16||LGBTIQ Pride March Zagreb Pride 2012||We have Family! A Millennium of Croatian Dreaming (Imamo obitelj, tisućljetni hrvatski san)||LGBTIQ families||4.000|
|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||15.000|
|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||5.000|
|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, exclusivity, chauvinism, single-mindedness and radicalization of society through the glorification of the fascist Ustasha movement and the right wing ideology.||5.000|
|2016||June 11||LGBTIQ and family Pride March Zagreb Pride 2016||Croatia Has Not Yet Fallen! (Još Hrvatska ni propala)||Defence of acquired LGBT rights and personal and civil liberties of all people in Croatia||7.000|
|2017||June 10||LGBTIQ and family Pride March Zagreb Pride 2017||Free life begins with pride. (Slobodan život počinje ponosom)||Freedom of choice, equality, personal safety, social justice, solidarity||10.000|
|2018||June 9||LGBTIQ and family Pride March Zagreb Pride 2018||Long live gender. (Da nam živi, živi rod)||Gender equality and gender diversity||10.000|
|2019||June 8||LGBTIQ and family Pride March Zagreb Pride 2019||18 Proud Years (Osamnaest ponosnih godina)||Full equality||7.000 - 10.000|
|2020||September 19||LGBTIQ and family Pride March Zagreb Pride 2020||Freedom inside and outside of 4 walls (Sloboda unutar i izvan četiri zida)||Marriage equality (pride held during COVID-19 pandemic)||500 - 1.500|
Other LGBT Prides in Croatia
- LGBT pride
- LGBT pride parade
- LGBT rights in Croatia
- Recognition of same-sex unions in Croatia
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