A Croatian soccer fan site has expressed regret that a heavy police presence deterred thugs from throwing stones and otherwise harassing participants in a gay-pride march.
There was relief in much of the country after no major incidents were reported
at the rally, in the port city of Split over the weekend.
The same event one year ago quickly spiraled out of control after jeering detractors hurled rocks, bottles, and other objects at participants, injuring at least a dozen and leading to around 100 arrests. That ugly scene that did little to dispel notions that wide swaths of the Balkans are intolerant of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, despite recent gains in places like Belgrade
. (To be sure, there have also been setbacks
This time, authorities in the aspiring European Union member took the threat of antigay violence seriously. Reuters reported:
Participants said this year's event was an important test of democracy and human rights protection in the country due to join the European Union on July 1, 2013.
The EU's delegation in Croatia said earlier this week it would be watching events in the Adriatic city carefully.
"We have to be here to show that we're the country where the laws are respected and that we will not allow violence or discrimination based on racial or ethnic grounds, on choice of life style or any orientation," Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said.
The event attracted several hundred people, including Minister Pusic.
Keeping the peace wasn't necessarily easy. AP noted that police had fenced off the area and patrolled above in a helicopter and stood by with water cannon. In the end, there were about 40 detentions in Split.
But a Facebook page
dedicated to the local soccer squad, Hajduk Split, reportedly "voiced disappointment after the heavy police presence prevented them from staging incidents at Saturday's Pride parade," according to index.hr
The Facebook page of Fantomi Pirotehnike 1950...administrator was disappointed because there was no stone throwing but nevertheless satisfied because Torcida avoided the role of the usual culprit. Aside from that, he concluded, participants were hurt more by parading in front of 20 people than they would have been getting hit in the head with a stone.
He said "strike groups" didn't want to lose important members because of those "sick guys" and go to prison because of them.
The page went on to attribute some of the calm to the fact that so many rowdies are at the Euro 2012 soccer championship in Ukraine and Poland.
We'd provide a link to the original Facebook post, except that, according to index.hr, it was removed after a member suggested that the page's administrator "remove the status because tomorrow it will all be in articles in which the group is criticized."
-- Index.hr text translated by RFE/RL's Balkan Service