The town of Imotski in the mostly-Catholic country of Croatia is getting attention after its leaders decided to burn an effigy of a same-sex couple kissing, and holding a child, as part of a 150-year old annual carnival celebration.
As the video below shows, the figures of two men kissing were lit on fire, and were quickly engulfed by flames as adults cheered and applauded and young children stood and watched. Confetti was thrown, some of the children were unsure what to make of the hateful spectacle, and a few appeared excited. One little girl applauded and then quickly walked off. Several attendees, including children, filmed the event for posterity.
One of the figures burned "clearly showed the face of Social Democratic Party MP Nenad Stazic, who has campaigned in parliament for same-sex couples to be allowed to foster children," BalkanInsight reports. "His character had also a red star on his forehead, the symbol of former communist Yugoslavia."
One of the carnival organizers defended the choice of burning a same-sex couple.
“We remain conservative, sticking to tradition. Give the baby to a mother, as the saying goes. We think that’s right.”
But political leaders, including the country's president, and activists are speaking out.
President Zoran Milanovic on Facebook (via a Facebook translation) called the act "sad, unpleasant and completely impossible," while blasting organizers "who have made this shameful event, while calling for tradition, deserve the most clear of the public because hatred for others, hatred and inhumanity are not and will not be a Croatian tradition."
He called for the public to speak out, "especially since many children ... watched ... and thus witness[ed] the spread of hate and [encouragement of] violence."
The nation's Education Minister, Blazenka Divjak, and Economy Minister, Darko Horvat, also condemned the display.
“The scary scenes from Imotski cannot be justified by carnival customs," the Rainbow Family Association's Daniel Martinovic said. "What kind of message is being sent to our children, children who nowadays in Croatia grow up with lesbian mothers or gay fathers?”
Total Croatia News reports criminal charges will be brought against the carnival's organizer.
Watch – the hateful act begins near the end of the video at about the 1:41:00 mark:
Hat tip: Towleroad