Pride events spared violence in Croatia and Slovakia
A large police presence ensures no repeat of violence targetting events in previous years
The Croatian city of Split and the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, both hosted LGBT pride marches on Saturday under heavy police protection.
In Bratislava around 500 people marched in the city’s third such celebration.
A symbolic same-sex wedding was briefly interrupted by stink bombs thrown by hooligans and a group of skinheads held up a banner reading “We do not want homosexual extremists in Bratislava,” but they were held back by police barricades and the event went largely undisrupted.
The event received the endorsement of 18 foreign embassies including Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, and the representative of the European Commission to Slovakia, DuÅ¡an Chrenek.
“We, as members of the international community, support both morally and practically the parade organizers and participants as they peacefully assemble to express their human rights and raise awareness of the LGBT community in the Slovak Republic,” a joint statement read.
“Everyone, including LGBT people, should be free to enjoy the rights and freedoms laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We celebrate the many social, economic and political contributions made by LGBT communities in our own countries.”
In Split, hundreds of Croatian police were deployed after the government pledged to protect marchers as a sign of its determination to protect LGBT rights ahead of joining the EU in 2013.
"We have to be here to show that we’re the country where the laws are respected and that we will not allow violence or discrimination based on racial or ethnic grounds, on choice of life style or any orientation," Croatia’s Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said.
"People should have the freedom and right to be what they want. And no one should persecute, attack, beat and discriminate them just because of what they want to be."
Police detained around forty people but laid no charges and there was no repeat of last year’s violence where anti-gay protestors threw rocks and bottles at marchers.
Around 500 people marched in Split while another 300 took part in a solidarity event in the port city of Rijeka.
Croatia will hold its next pride event on June 16 in the capital Zagreb.