Thousands of people marched Saturday in colorful gay pride events in Italy, Poland and Croatia urging support for minority rights in the mostly Catholic nations.
The parades in Poland and Croatia come amid mounting right-wing sentiments that pose new challenges to gay rights activists. Italian participants, however, had more reason to celebrate after winning the right to form same-sex civil unions this year.
Still, the Italians said there is far more to be done given the limited nature of the new civil union law, which took effect last Sunday.
Italy doesn’t allow same-sex marriage, and gay rights proponents failed to get the civil unions law to include adoption by a gay civil union partner of the biological child of the other person in the union.
“In a country like Italy where LGBT rights are not fully recognized, the fact of showing ourselves in public in front of other people means that we are claiming our presence. In this moment we are saying: ‘even if you do not agree with us, we are here,'” said Nadir Signori, a participant from Brescia.
In Zagreb, former interior minister Ranko Ostojic and several well-known public figures joined an event dubbed “Croatia is Not Over Yet.” Ostojic says “I am glad to be here today, this is my Croatia.”
Liberals have warned that Croatia has been tilting to the right under a conservative government that took over in January. Similarly in Poland, there are concerns for minority rights under a right-wing government that took office in November.