Zagreb draws people from across the country and the wider region to march in the name of transgender rights.
The Republic of Croatia is known as a conservative country, and while there are people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and religious beliefs (or none whatsoever) living in Croatia, the dominant religion is Catholicism. Most people in Croatia identify as Catholic if asked, even if they don’t actively practice the religion or attend church regularly, or at all.
Gay pride has become somewhat of a staple in some of Croatia’s larger cities, including the capital of Zagreb, Split, and in the typically much less conservative Rijeka along the northern Adriatic coast. While gay pride parades generally pass by without many incidents, Croatia still has a long way to go before such parades are as accepted as they are in other European capitals such as London or Berlin.
What of those who are transgender, you might ask? As france24 writes on the 30th of March, 2019, Croatia hosted its very first transgender march yesterday, which attracted approximately 300 people from Croatia and the wider region to Zagreb to march in an attempt to draw attention to the discrimination they feel they face in what is a largely, but not entirely, conservative part of Europe.
Those marching were accompanied by special police as they marched through the streets of the capital on the warm, sunny spring day this weekend, blowing whistles and brandishing signs and banners attesting to their struggle within society.
The organisers of the Zagreb march spoke about the concerning rise of ”right-wing groups”, even going as far as to refer to such groups as ”fascists” who seek to focus their ”attacks on marginalised people” which they claim include women, migrants and transgender individuals. They claimed that the march encompassed not only trans rights but desired to draw attention to ”all forms of oppression,” according to a statement from the organisers.
Since its accession to the European Union back in 2013, Croatia has seen the gradual liberalisation of gay rights, and homosexual couples have been perfectly free to register themselves as life partners, just like unmarried heterosexual couples, since the year 2014. That law afforded them the same rights which were already enjoyed by homosexual couples who are legally married, which include matters involving property, tax, health and social insurance, and various other things.
In spite of Croatia’s numerous steps forward, which have picked up their pace quite significantly since the country’s accession to the political-economic bloc, issues still remain for people seen as as marginalised, which includes both gay and transgender people.
A trans activist from the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana stated that solidarity is key, and that the march was an emotional one as it saw all of the people from across the region, which like to fight with each other at the best of times, coming together in Zagreb in the name of such an important matter.