2008. ANNUAL REPORT on the status of human rights of sexual and gender minorities in Croatia

Summary of 2008 Report

The greatest advance in the protection of the rights of sexual and gender minorities in 2008 was achieved by the adoption of the Anti-Discrimination Act. This Act was passed by the Croatian Parliament on 9 July 2008, after a long public debate. This Act by definition ensures the protection and promotion of equality as the greatest values of the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia, creates the prerequisites for achieving equal opportunities and sets out protection from discrimination including on the basis of gender identity, expression and sexual orientation. The newly adopted Act widens the institutional framework for protection from discrimination. It introduces the institution of interveners and the institution of joint legal action, and gives greater powers to the Office of the People’s Ombudsman who according to the Act carries out the tasks of the central body responsible for the elimination of discrimination. For the first time in Croatian egislation, this Act introduces the banning of discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Transgender persons are subjected to discrimination and violence in their everyday lives because of their gender identity or gender expression.
Of particular concern is the fact that there does not exist in the Republic of Croatia an appropriate system of offering health care to transsexual persons for sex change operations and the treatment of possible complications which occur as a result of such operations. Croatian doctors are not sufficiently trained to offer such types of health care.

There exist significant problems in respect of the right to privacy of transsexual persons. Namely, after a sex change operation the police do not erase data on a person’s previous sex from the police records. Police officials in the majority of cases are extremely transphobic and it happens that they openly mock and show data about a person’s change of sex to other people (for example at national borders during document checks).
Transsexual persons often experience violence on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression; however, they very rarely decide to report such incidents to the police due to their lack of trust in state institutions and fear of disclosing their identity.

Positive advances in the state of the rights of sexual and gender minorities in the Republic of Croatia in 2008 can be seen as in previous years in the increase in reporting of violence and discrimination to associations for the protection of sexual and gender minorities. More and more people are finding the courage to report homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes. However, a large number of people who have experienced discrimination and violence never report such incidents because of their lack of faith in the Croatian legal system and fear of disclosing their sexual orientation.

The most negative event in 2008 was the decision by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport to desist from introducing any kind of sex education in schools.
The disgraceful fact that the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport, after four years of work on finding an adequate solution for the introduction of sex and afterwards health education, decided not to introduce a separate subject and to completely stop working on this problem. In those four years, the Ministry received opinions from the offices of the Ombudswoman for Children as well as the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality, which the Ministry never respected. But in order to
adopt some kind of decision, the Ministry engaged two expert commissions, only, in the end after that unnecessary financial expense, to collect inadequate programmes from non-governmental organisations which will not even be used. From all this it can be seen that the responsible ministry, at taxpayers’ expense, has only created unimplementable programmes with the clear intent of returning to the beginning – when a public debate was started on this subject back in 2004.

The above analysis confirms that pupils in primary and secondary schools obtain information about different sexual orientations and gender identities in the regular education system based exclusively on the dogmatic viewpoints of the Catholic Church and possibly other religious communities.

Practice shows that the majority of perpetrators of criminal offences of violence against sexual and gender minorities are minors, therefore still attending either primary or secondary school, and that they receive information about different sexual orientations and gender identities through the regular educational system based on the dogmatic viewpoints of the Catholic Church or other religious communities. They receive other information about sexuality only during biology classes
when they learn about reproductive systems and the reproduction of animals, as well as humans, and to a small degree during other subjects when, for example, they learn about literature or history.

Such a system demonstrates that the state does not give accurate and complete information about human sexuality to pupils of primary and secondary schools, resulting in children being deprived of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and other international and national legal documents. By manipulating the public domain, unjust use of the resources of the State budget, giving false and unachievable promises, totally ignoring the opinion of the ombudswoman and frustrating children and their rights, the responsible Ministry of Science, Education and Support, headed by minister Dragan Primorac, has set the Croatian education system back four years, and left the teaching of children at the level of education of several hundred years ago.

Report: PDF, 468KB