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Violence, thousands of protesters bring abrupt halt to Croatia gay pride

Violence, thousands of protesters bring abrupt halt to Croatia gay pride

An estimated 8,000 protesters — many throwing stones, bottles, bricks, firecrackers, and eggs — brought an abrupt end to the first gay pride to be staged in the port city of Split, in southern Croatia on Saturday.

Shouts of “kill the fags,” “we are Croats” and “kill the queers -– Serb kills” were directed at march participants. About a dozen people were injured, including four journalists, and more than 100 arrested.

The uprising came just 24 hours after the European Union announced that Croatia would be able to join the EU in 2013, with the Croatian government pledging to protect human rights.

Croatia is a staunchly Roman Catholic country where gay groups have long complained about hostility towards open expression of their sexual orientation.

Croatian President Ivo Josipovic condemned the attacks, and said the violence didn’t reflect the true face of Croatia.

Croatia’s first Gay Pride parade was held in the capital Zagreb in 2002, and was followed by attacks on more than a dozen participants. Since then, parades have been held in Zagreb annually without any major outbreaks, but under heavy security.

The Croatian capital is to host another gay pride parade on June 18.

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