Author: Emili Ema Sedlar
Many around the world are not aware how in the past few days, Croatia has been in the center of attention because of some homophobic comments directed to tourists that have booked their vacation through booking.com. In this specific case, it is about a gay couple from Sao Paolo, Brazil that have reserved their holiday accommodation in the city of Zadar and just a few days later their reservation was cancelled because the owner Tomislav Gospić does not allow homosexual couples in the hotel. This reaction has sparked outrage across social media, where many Croatian human rights activists and organizations have spoken out about the issue of homophobia and transphobia in Croatia, warning how this is not the first incident of such hatred, bigotry and discrimination, raising awareness of LGBT issues in Croatia.
Booking.com later released a statement that they oppose to any and all types of discrimination and that they have removed this property and owner from their site.
Just a few days later, Fabiano Vallim has shared his story on social media, writing an open letter to Mr. Gospić about his heinous behavior and attitude. Vallim has received messages of support and comments in which people have made statements about the truth of Croatian tourism.
However, several journalists have contacted the hotel and reached the owners son, Aleksandar in which he explained the reason why they do not accept LGBT persons is because they had a bad experience with LGBT guests before since they constantly had orgies. After several questions, such as What if there were heterosexual couples that had orgies, would you ban heterosexual couples as well? After that question, Aleksander handed the phone to his father, who aggressively responded “I have break time until 5pm. Stop bothering me.”
Zagreb Pride, one of Croatia’s biggest LGBT activist organization shared how Croatia is not a safe place for LGBT persons, especially on the streets, main squares, parks, and beaches. Discrimination towards LGBT persons during the tourism season isn’t surprising to us at all. The incident in Zadar is not rare and we regularly receive messages of complaints of similar treatments, such as when reserving an apartment, when visiting a bar or restaurant or even when they go to beaches, illustrated Jay from Zagreb Pride and even reminded how Croatian LGBT persons are afraid to report discrimination since they do not believe in the police and in the judiciary system. This is one of the reasons why people are able to discover more about LGBT discrimination in Croatia through tourists, who are not afraid to open up about their experience.
Jay also acknowledged how many tourists are shocked by the way many hosts act towards LGBT persons, noting how one of their most common questions is how to report discriminatory acts and behavior. After people have read the story about what happened in Zadar, most citizens do not understand how this is discrimination and that this kind of practice is illegal, pointed out Jay.
Zagreb Pride concluded how even though the Croatian law is clear when it comes to discriminatory acts, the police rarely reacts and when they do, it is only when the story is out in the media. The entire process is extremely slow and ineffective. Since the government rarely publicly condemns any form of discrimination, including hate speech, it is no wonder that the social climate of Croatia is unsafe.
From the Author:
Hi there lovely people! My name is Emili Ema Sedlar and I am a journalist from Croatia. It is such an honor to be volunteering for LGBT News & Women’s Rights News and bringing out new ideas about today’s issues in society. I am a college student, majoring in journalism and communications. In the past few years, I have been an activist in the fields of education, HIV, immigrants’ rights and women’s rights, focusing mostly on stories that are unique and different. I have published my journalistic works on many Croatian news sites and for over a year, I’ve been a writer for Positive Women’s Network-USA.