Pride petrol bomber jailed for attempted attack

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A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to 14 months in jail after being found guilty of a hate crime by a court in Croatia.

Yesterday Josip Situm was convicted of endangering lives and property and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment while behind bars.

Police spotted him at the Pride event in the Croatian capital Zagreb on 7th July 2007 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.

Situm denied the charges and said he had decided not to attack the Pride march, which he objected to because he is a Roman Catholic.

He is the first person convicted of a hate crime in the country since they became an offence under the country’s Penal Code in 2006.

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.