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Thousands of celebrants marched in LGBT Pride parades in three heavily Roman Catholic countries today -- Poland, Croatia, and Italy.
The parades in the Polish and Croatian capitals -- Warsaw and Zagreb -- were making something of a stand against national governments that are moving to the right, while marchers in Rome celebrated the country's new civil unions law while making a point that more progress is needed, the Associated Press reports.
"In a country like Italy where LGBT rights are not fully recognized, the fact of showing ourselves in public in front of other people means that we are claiming our presence," Nadir Signori, a participant in the Rome parade, told the AP. "In this moment we are saying, 'Even if you do not agree with us, we are here.'"
The civil unions law, which took effect last Sunday, allows same-sex couples some of the rights of marriage, but not the right to adopt each other's children. Italy was one of the last Western European countries to enact legal recognition of same-sex relationships, something widely attributed to the Catholic Church's influence in the nation.
Croatia banned same-sex marriage in a national referendum in 2013, but legislators approved civil unions, although without adoption rights, in 2014. A right-wing government took office in January, leading to fears that LGBT rights are in jeopardy. Former Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic and several other prominent Croatians appeared at the Pride event to support LGBT citizens; the event's theme was "Croatia Is Not Over Yet," the AP reports.
In Poland, where there has been little progress toward LGBT equality, a conservative government took over in November, so there are concerns that the situation may worsen, the news service notes.