The LGBT rights association, Rainbow Families, has announced they would file a criminal complaint against the Carnival organisers in the southern town of Imotski, where an effigy representing a same-sex couple holding a child was burned on Sunday.
The fact that an effigy representing a gay couple with a child was burnt as part of the Carnival cannot exonerate the perpetrators by invoking a folk custom or the frivolity of the event because that is not the usual social criticism of politicians and other untouchable elites. The burning of a gay couple and, even worse, a child, constitutes direct incitement to hatred towards minority and often discriminated groups in society, the organisation said on Monday.
They described the act as unacceptable incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence against “Rainbow families” and children who spend their childhood in orphanages, adding that the latest research in Croatia shows that gay and lesbian couples with children cite possible reactions from people around them as the biggest challenge in their everyday lives.
President Milanovic: Sad, inhumane and unacceptable act
The symbolic burning of same-sex partners with a foster child is “a sad, inhumane and completely unacceptable act under the guise of the Carnival festivities,” President Zoran Milanovic said in a Facebook post.
The organisers of this shameful event, invoking tradition, deserve the strongest condemnation from the public because “hatred towards those who are different, intolerance and inhumane actions are not and will never be the Croatian tradition,” he added.
“I demand their public apology and a response from the competent authorities, all the more so because numerous children watched the event and witnessed the spread of hatred and incitement to violence,” Milanovic wrote.
Ombudsman Lora Vidovic said in her Twitter post: “I don't know how this can be fun. It's incomprehensible, devastating and sad. It teaches children that hating is OK. It's unacceptable.”
Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Kreso Beljak tweeted that it was “a sad and shameful act”, while Mirando Mrsic of the Democrats party said that it was neither satire nor Carnival jubilation but “an act of hatred and intolerance”.
Science and Education Minister Blazenka Divjak told reporters on Monday morning that it was an unacceptable act and a bad message to the children. “We should all be much more responsible. This situation cannot be justified in any way, even by the Carnival,” she said.
Economy Minister Darko Horvat also condemned the incident. He called for putting a stop to the spread of hatred across the country regardless of perpetrators’ age, ethnicity or gender.