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The First LGBT Pride March in Split, Croatia, Prevented by Police and Marred by Violence

The organizers of the LGBT Pride in Split Croatia relate the violence that they experienced at the hands of extremists and the police.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

15th June 2011 11:51

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Europe

Here is a letter from the organizers of the Pride March relating their experiences.

Today, June 11, was supposed to be the first LGBT Pride manifestation in Split aimed at raising awareness on discrimination of same-sex families in Croatian legislation.

Immediately, there were problems with the police which resulted from clear orders from the heads of state institutions, when most participants were not allowed to join gathering at Ä’ardin (park from where march started). The participants had to stay in front of police officers surrounded by fascists. Police officers told the people wishing to join Pride March that they have orders not to let anyone in, except organisers. Only after numerous interventions were made by activists and journalists they the particpants were let to join the gathering at Ä’ardin.

The gathering ended in violence. The route of the march was not secured. Attackers were allowed to throw explosive objects, torches, big rocks, ashtrays and other objects the entire length of the march and at Riva where the program was supposed to be held.

Facists were allowed to hold hands in facist salute and shout "Kill faggots" and "You must die" almost on the entire length of the route. Near the exit from Marmontova street to Riva, a big number of violent attackers were allowed to congregate and thus narrowed down the passage route for the march. They were also throwing explosives and other objects, and the participants of the march had to go back twice and then finally go through narrow passage.

While these were happening, police officers were telling to participants to go through the passage, although they were constantly hit by explosives, rocks and other objects.

A number of people were injured (we are still colecting information on exact number). When participants finally managed to come to gathering place at Riva, the attacks continued there.Rocks and other objects were constantly thrown on the stage and more people were injured. One man was taken by the ambulance to the hospital because he was bleeding from the head (he was camera man from RTL television).

On behalf of organisers, Sanja Juras from Lesbian group Kontra announced on the microphone the cancellation of the gathering because of the security problam and asked the police to help evacuate the people immediately.

However, the police did not immediately organise the evacuation. After more than half an hour and there was still no help from the police on the evacuation, brave activists from LGBT organisations and representatives of international organisations and institutions held a few speeches and LeZbor sang a few songs in order to calm down people that were under constant attack (at that point Riva was partly cleared and it was harder for attackers to aim at the stage). Then everything was stopped because police finally organised evacuation.

The whole time, the Mayor of Split was sitting nearby at Riva in a cafe dressed in black (facist colour). After majority of the marchers were evacuated into the office of the organisation Dominoes. The organizers noticed that one woman was left outside of the "safe zone." A representative of association Kontra, asked the police to help escort to safety, one woman who was outside the "safe zone."

A group of young men shouted at Sanja Juras in front of the police officers: "We remembered you" and one of them told her "I will burn you alive!" and made gesture with his hand as if he was lighting a lighter. Activists asked police officer to arrest him, but he only took his information.

The State institutions did not protect right to public gathering of lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender persons. The human rights of citizens of Croatia are not secured because legal state does not function.

Against State bodies and attackers we are giong to initiate proceedures. We are also going to inform international institutions and human rights organisations. We are asking for Minister of internal affairs to be replaced.

The Organizers,
Lesbian Group Kontra,
Iskorak, and