LGBT rights in Croatia

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LGBT rights in Croatia
Location of Croatia
Location of Croatia
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1977, age of consent equalized in 1998
Gender identity/expression Right to change legal gender, discrimination banned by Anti-discrimination Act from 2009
Recognition of
Unregistered cohabitation since 2003,
no registered partnerships
or same-sex marriage
Adoption as an individual
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression protection since 2003 (see below)

Lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Croatia may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Croatia, but households headed by same-gender couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-gender couples.

Croatia, as a whole, is still considered to be rather conservative, especially in public reactions regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights and visibility of LGBT people. In the last few years there has been no mass organized or group violences towards LGBT activism and manifestations. However, some severe violations of human rights of LGBT persons happened in 2007, including an attempt to throw five or six Molotov cocktails on Zagreb Pride[1].

Laws against homosexuality

There is no law against homosexuality having been legalised in 1977[2]. The age of consent was equalised in 1998 when it was specified as 14 by the Croatian Criminal Code. The acts themselves ban "sexual relations with a child" while it is later defined that a child is a person under the age of 14[3]

Homosexuals are not banned from military service.

Recognition of same-sex relationships

There has been legal recognition of same-sex couples, which allows for unregistered cohabitation, since 2003. The law on same-sex civil unions grants same-sex partners of at least 3 years the same rights as enjoyed by unmarried cohabiting opposite sex partners (inheritance, financial support).

In early 2005, the parliament rejected a proposal to allow civil unions. MP Lucija Čikeš, a member of the ruling HDZ party, called for the proposal to be dropped because "all universe is heterosexual, from an atom and the smallest particle, from a fly to an elephant". Another HDZ MP objected on grounds "85% of the population considers itself Catholic and the Church is against heterosexual and homosexual equality".[4]

Discrimination protections

An anti-discrimination law which includes sexual orientation exists in many acts since 2003:

  • Penal Code (2006. Hate crime introduced in Croatia, the first hate crime definition in any European country)
  • Gender Equality Law
  • Law on Science and Higher Studies
  • Media Law
  • HRT Law
  • Law on Same-sex Relationships
  • Labour Code
  • Sport Law
  • Asylum Law
  • The Law on volunteering (anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression)
  • Law on Suppressing Discrimination - Anti discrimination act since 2008 (anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression)[5]

Hate crimes legislation

Since 2006, the country has had hate crimes legislation covering sexual orientation. This law was first applied in 2007, when a man who violently attacked the Zagreb Pride parade was charged and convicted to 14 months in prison.[6]

Police arrested a 25-year-old Josip Å itum and charged him with a hate crime for the incident of the attempted to throw five or six Molotov cocktails on Zagreb Pride in June 2007. This was the first time that someone was indicted for a hate crime since this type of crime was introduced into the Criminal Code in June 2006. Josip Å itum was sentenced by a first instance court to 14 months in prison and 14 months in mandatory psychiatric therapy in February 2008. In his defense he claimed he is "a Catholic and a believer" and that he is "troubled by events such as Gay Prides and wanted to raise awareness about this problem." The court decided to keep Å itum in custody, where he has been for about eight months, until his ruling is finalized.

State Attorney's Office stated after the conviction that they are displeased with the length of the prison sentence and have asked that it be increased[7].

Blood donation issues

The Croatian institute for transfusions (Hrvatski zavod za transfuzijsku medicinu) permanently rejects men who have had sex with other men from donating blood (while drug abuse and HIV are listed as separate causes for rejection).

Living conditions

Tolerance of gay people is growing in the main cities, while the rural areas remain anti-homosexual. There exists a small gay scene around the country, which is growing rapidly, as well as a number of strong lesbian and LGBTIQ activist groups. There are only few gay clubs in Zagreb, regular gay/queer parties in Rijeka and Zagreb, and several gay-friendly/gay-safe spaces. The situation is developing in each new year.

In 2002, 2007, and 2009 participants in Zagreb Pride experienced violent some public opposition. Some LGBT rights activists criticized the government for lax punishment of offenders, and called this a violation of human rights.

Summary table

Homosexuality legal since 1977 Yes
Equal age of consent since 1998 Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment under Labor laws Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech, hate crime) Yes
Same-sex marriage(s) No
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes
Adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays allowed to serve in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also


  3. NN 110 art 192 (1997)
  4. - Sabornici protiv pedera za spas civilizacije i svemira
  6. Croat charged with hate crime for attempting to attack gay parade - International Herald Tribune


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