Gay Watch: Croatia

A onetime Yugoslav republic embraces equality via one of Europe's most sweeping sets of LGBT rights laws. It's a shame too few of its gay citizens are out enough to put them to use much.

BY Dan Allen

June 21 2009 11:00 PM ET

ZAGREB PRIDE 03 XLRG (ANDREA KNEZOVIC) | ADVOCATE.COM

Despite such shocking scenes, Croatia is a land that officially respects its gay citizens, by for instance granting same-sex partner relationships of more than three years the same cohabitation rights (like inheritance) as their heterosexual counterparts. Yet laws on the books don't always translate to freedoms in the streets.

"It's true that Croatia has legislation that protects some LGBTIQ rights, and the situation is worse for gays in other countries of the former Yugoslavia and the Balkan region -- but they have it really bad, so being better than that is not so great," says Croatian culture journalist Gordan Duhacek.

"Too many of us have studied or traveled abroad and know how much better it should be here," he adds. "Vienna and Budapest, the closest capitals to Zagreb, have literally hundreds of gay bars, clubs, bookshops, etc. One of the biggest problems is that our own LGBTIQ community is still mostly in the closet. I'm not sure that even Harvey Milk could get those people to finally come out. And it's clear that no sweeping, major changes will happen without a lot of gay [Croatian] people saying, 'I'm here, I'm queer -- get used to it.' "

Tags: Travel

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