Zagreb (AFP) – Around 300 people from around the Balkans joined Croatia’s first-ever transgender march Saturday to draw attention to the discrimination they face in the largely conservative region.
Blowing whistles and playing drums, the demonstrators walked through downtown Zagreb escorted by special police.
“Change your hearts not my parts” and “Trans lives matter” read banners carried by the marchers.
In a statement earlier, the march organisers warned that the region was facing a “rise of right-wing, fascist groups, which almost always focus their attacks on marginalised people” including women, migrants and trans persons.
The march was intended to send “clear messages of pride and defiance, a revolt against those who try to claim dominion over our bodies, minds and lives, as well as against all forms of oppression,” they said in a statement.
“Solidarity is key. We all need it,” Evan, a 30-year-old trans activist from the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, told AFP.
“It’s also very emotional experience because it’s all of the Balkans coming together.”
Croatia, a European Union state since 2013, has seen a gradual liberalisation of gay rights in recent years. Homosexual couples have been able to register as “life partners” since 2014.
The law granted them the same rights as heterosexual married couples on matters such as property, inheritance, tax, health and social insurance.
Despite these changes however, gay and transgender communities are still exposed to threats or forced underground in Croatia and other Balkan countries.