ERA condemns the violent hate crime against a volunteer in Split Pride in Croatia. We call upon the police and prosecution for urgent action to identify, prosecute the perpetrators and ensure legal remedies for the victim.
We, at ERA, are in shock and saddened by this tragic event. Hate crimes are criminal acts motivated by bias or prejudice towards particular groups of people. This young person was attacked because he belongs to the LGBTIQ community. It is of utmost importance that the police and prosecutors recognise the characteristics of the hate crime and adequately follow through. We condemn the lack of capacity of the police officer at the scene to recognise this incident for what it was and to try to diminish the harmful impact that this attack had on the victim.
We are concerned to see the rise of hate crimes biased by sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics of the victims in Croatia and the region. The Survey Results of the Experiences of LGBTI People in Southeastern Europe show that 34% of LGBTI people in Croatia have experienced physical assault or have been threatened with physical (48%) or sexual (9%) violence.
The Croatian Criminal Code recognises hate crimes and hate speech on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, providing a legal background for the perpetrators to be charged with an aggravated penalty. The culture of impunity of perpetrators of homophobic and transphobic violence only leads to more violence and a social context that is marginalising and leaving behind every member of society that does not fit in the heteropatriarchal cisgender norms.
“Across the Western Balkans and Turkey region, most hate crimes against LGBTIQ people are not reported to the authorities due to lack of trust and fear of repercussions. We call on Croatia, as well as the other states from the region, to consider the experiences of LGBTIQ people within the justice system and improve the access based on those. The relativisation of the homophobic harassment and violence from the police officer at the scene must not go unsanctioned. Moreover, the state must train and educate the civil servants to recognise their biases against LGBTIQ people and make sure those do not affect their judgment at work.” - Biljana Ginova, Advocacy Manager at ERA.
Therefore, at ERA, we call the state for a prompt investigation and resolution of this incident. The lack of legal resolution could easily be interpreted as support of the perpetrators and can strengthen the violent culture and increase the violent homophobic and transphobic attacks in Croatia.
We encourage LGBTIQ people who have survived harassment or violence because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics to report the case and seek support in Split Pride and the LGBTI Centre in Split. LGBTIQ people can also report the incident via You Are Heard, a regional platform for documenting hate crimes and incidents of hate developed by ERA in partnership with 14 partners, including the Split LGBTI organisations. The survivors can report their experiences anonymously and can find information on where to seek support. Even when done anonymously, reporting contributes to creating a more accurate picture of the levels of hate crime against LGBTIQ people across the region. That gives us the power to show the need to improve national policies and support systems to meet the needs of the community better.