European Parliament urges Croatia to protect gay citizens before joining EU

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The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which reminds Croatia of its obligation to protect gay citizens from homophobia and homophobic violence before it joins the EU in 2013.

Last year, the European Parliament said Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey had to prove they could offer “genuine protection” to gay people in order to become member states.

Candidate countries were reminded that protections such as anti-discrimination laws were “non-negotiable”.

But this summer, a Pride march in the coastal town of Split ended in violent clashes.

The resolution adopted by the Parliament says in part that it is “deeply concerned by the violence against participants in the LGBT pride march in Split on 11 June 2011 and the inability of the Croatian authorities to protect the participants”.

Croatian authorities are urged to “investigate and prosecute the crimes committed and to develop strategies for preventing similar incidents in the future”.

The text also calls for them to “quickly adopt and implement an action plan against homophobia”.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: “The European Parliament has consistently called for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe, including in the Western Balkans.

“The work of some local and national authorities in Croatia is slowly leading to a better situation for everyone, but more is needed to ensure LGBT people can live free from fear and discrimination in South-Eastern Europe.”

Marije Cornelissen, a Dutch MEP member of the LGBT Intergroup and author of the paragraph on LGBT rights, added: “Croatia will be welcome in the European Union in 2013, but until then — and once it has become a Member State — it will need to pay close attention to the rights of minorities.”

She added: “During Split Pride earlier this year, local authorities were unable to protect me and other participants from violent demonstrators. I look forward to the day when Croatia, with the help of other European countries including the Netherlands, will adopt an action plan against homophobia and transphobia.”

Last year the country’s Football Federation chief apologised after claiming while he was in charge of Croatian football there would be “no homosexuals playing in the national team”.