In March 2008 Lesbian Group Kontra in cooperation with the association Iskorak started a campaign for the rights of sexual minorities which was entitled “Different Loves, Same Rights”.
The campaign started in Zagreb on 12 March 2009 with a press conference in the showroom of Galerija Nova and with the distribution of postcards on Ban Jelačić Square.
The campaign was conducted in four Croatian cities: Osijek, Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb. The campaign’s promotional materials (jumbo posters, B2 posters, postcards and the website http://www.kontra.hr/kampanja/) consisted of six photographs of same-sex couples in various situations which symbolised the different rights of LGB persons (the right to marriage, equal rights of same-sex couples for children, the right to work, the right to education, equal rights and obligations in health care, the right to life without violence). The goal of the campaign was to highlight breaches of the human rights of lesbians, gays and bisexual persons.
The photographs were the work of artist Ana Opalić, who was also one of the models for the campaign. All the models were LGB persons (six female couples and one male couple). The models in five photographs were from Croatia and in one photograph the models were activists of the Labris lesbian organisation from Serbia with which the association Kontra has cooperated over many years.
The campaign was conducted from 12 March to 26 March 2009. The campaign’s jumbo posters were erected in the above four Croatian cities in the city centres. The smaller posters were placed in universities, cafes, libraries and organisations for the protection of human rights.
On 12 March the beginning of the campaign was announced at a press conference in Galerija Nova in the centre of Zagreb. After the conference an action was held of distributing postcards to citizens of Zagreb on Ban Jelačić Square. On the same day at 20:00 hours the opening of an exhibition of the campaign’s posters (in B2 format) was held in the same gallery (the posters were also set up in the gallery during the press conference).
A party was also held in cooperation with the group ZbeleTron (an informal group which regularly organises lesbian parties in a cafe in Zagreb) to promote the campaign. The party was advertised on the campaign’s website and a Facebook group was opened especially for that purpose. Unfortunately, immediately after the opening of the “Facebook event” an unknown perpetrator using the nickname “Clown Hunter” made a threat with the following content: “I’ll come and burn you all with petrol you blasphemers!” The association Kontra informed the police about the threat and the time and place where the party was being held as well as other events connected with the campaign.
On 16 March 2009 there was an action of distributing postcards in Osijek on the main square and surrounding streets. One person said to an activist who was distributing leaflets: “Just you fight for your rights, I was unable to.” There were also negative reactions of citizens who threw away or tore up the leaflets.
An action of distributing postcards was organised in Split on 20 March 2009. We encountered positive reactions of citizens and this time also police officials who even asked for more postcards in order to share them with their colleagues.
An action of distributing postcards was held in Dubrovnik on 25 and 26 March. In the majority of cases the reactions of citizens was neutral. However one person approached an activist and threatened to beat her up.
The campaign attracted wide attention from the media and once more a public debate about the human rights of LGB persons was opened. The campaign launch was reported on by all important media (national television, other television stations, daily newspapers, radio stations, Internet portals etc). After a report on the campaign on national television a large number of viewers contacted the television station with negative comments. They complained that “their children could see two men kissing” because the report contained some pictures from the wedding of Elton John. The daily newspapers reported on this, but in a positive manner, criticising homophobia among viewers and generally in Croatian society. The actions in Split and Dubrovnik were also reported on by the local media.
The campaign ended with a press conference on 30 March 2009 in the showroom of Galerija Nova and also received great media attention. As an additional activity alongside this campaign a legislative initiative was announced for the legal enablement of marriages and all rights pertaining to that institution for same-sex couples.