This month let us introduce to you Sanda from Croatia whose organization is hosting an awesome sports event in Zagreb for the LGBTQ community in the area. Read her story and go play!
Can you introduce yourself please?
My name is Sanda, I am from Croatia, living in Zagreb. Feminism gives me power to survive so activism is my way: I worked in a lesbian group called Kontra for ten years, I was one of the organizers of Zagreb Prides in 2005 and 2006, and I also used to be part of a feminist choir called Le zbor. At the moment I am the coordinator of an EU project in the institution of Ombudsperson for gender equality.
In addition, I am involved in qSPORT Zagreb, queer sport group that promotes sport and recreation but also empowers LGBTQ+ persons and ensures safe space. Our sports include badminton, swimming, volleyball, ballroom dancing, dodgeball, cycling and trekking. My field of interest is the status of women in sports, especially discrimination against women.
In my free time I am crazy about outdoor activities. I train triathlon, and I have to admit I am in love with my bike, my everyday companion. My goddesses are rain, colorful sky, and green color.
Wow, that is impressive! So you are with qSPORT Zagreb, a sports club for improving the lives of thw LGBTQ community. Tell us a bit about the LGBTQ situation in Croatia.
Croatia has been recognizing same-sex life partnerships since 2014, but the following referendum initiated by right-wing and religious groups, marriage is still limited to opposite-sex couples in the Constitution of Croatia.
It is true that the protection against discrimination of LGBT persons is part of the Gender Equality and Anti-discrimination Act, but there are problems with implementing the law due to the prejudice of the judicial and police system. Although we have legal frameworks, we have to be aware of recurring violence against LGBTQ+ persons, along with non-acceptance and prejudice. Raising awareness about the protection of human rights is still an issue in Croatia.
But to end on a positive note, I do see some change. The main progress I witnessed in the last 15 years is the higher visibility of the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ topics are present in public space, in media, and in political debates. For example, only 200 people came for the first Zagreb Pride in 2002 and they were attacked by homophobic opponents; whereas today there are 5,000 people walking in the Pride march. This is a huge change for my life. I don’t necessarily mean to say that it’s better: but this is a huge change in the last 15-20 years.
So, the situation is pretty similar to that of Hungary. How are things in Zagreb specifically?
There is a huge difference between Zagreb and other parts of Croatia, especially rural areas, where people don't have support and are afraid of rejection from families, friends, schools. It is a privilege that I live in Zagreb as LGBTQ+ person, because there are different events and organizations. You could see same-sex couples in the street, especially younger people.
How’s social life for the LGBTQ people and lesbians* specifically?
Well, the most important thing I can tell you is that this weekend (21-23 January) we (qSPORT Zagreb) are organizing QueerSport Weekend together with some other organizations like FemSlam LBT football (from Belgrade) and Queer Sport (from Split). This event includes gatherings, parties, and sports (such as badminton, volleyball, basketball, football and ballroom dancing). We are very proud that basketball and football are women-only sporting activities. There will also be social events for LGBTQ+ persons like meet & greet, a party on Saturday, and a Sunday brunch. QueerSport Weekend will be part of the month of action Football v Homophobia (supported by Fare Network). You are all welcome to come and see for yourselves.
That sounds amazing! I hope a lot of women, also from Hungary, will take part. Good luck!