Pride petrol bomber charged with hate crime

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Prosecutors in Croatia yesterday charged a 25-year-old with a hate crime for attempting to throw petrol bombs at a Pride parade.

Identified only as Josip S, he is the first person accused of a hate crime in the country since they became an offence under the country’s Penal Code in 2006.

Police spotted him at the Pride event on 7th July with petrol bombs but he fled the scene. He was later arrested.

Prosecutors say he prepared his petrol bombs at home and intended to throw them at gay marchers.

He is charged with endangering lives and property by an act of hatred said Zagreb prosecutors.

Ten people were injured when violence broke out at the gay Pride march in Zagreb.

A gang of around 20 young men taunted and abused the Pride participants. Police arrested eight people.

Despite the Croatian government granting limited partnership rights for gay and lesbian couples, homophobia remains rife in the country, which is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

Homosexuality was legalised in Croatia in 1977, and the age of consent was equalised in 1998.

300 people took to the streets of the capital in July to protest against discrimination and the physical and verbal abuse Croatian LGBT people suffer. 500 police where deployed to protect them.

Croatia is not a member of the EU, but has applied to join and is regarded as likely to be admitted in 2009 or 2010.

However, the homophobic attitude that pervades Croatian society is an issue for some EU officials.