Zagreb Pride condemns the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) for their decision to include the interpretive statement in the most important document for the protection of women and other persons against gender-based violence – the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). The aim of this interpretive statement is to prevent the implementation of the Convention in practice and to symbolically affirm the transphobic goals of the clerical right in Croatia.
Zagreb Pride is strongly committed to countering violence experienced by gay, lesbians, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons. This struggle includes, inter alia, an effort to improve the existing procedure for legal gender recognition based solely on self-determination, advocacy activities against transphobia and homophobia in the educational system, and advocacy for achieving full legal equality of the status of life partners and marriage spouses. Transgender persons are among the most vulnerable groups in our society, especially trans women who are exposed to multiple forms of violence and oppression – as women and transgender persons.
Previous campaigns against the Istanbul Convention have explicitly attacked the most vulnerable and exposed persons, and in the defense of the Convention, the omnipresent transphobia often went uncondemned due to the higher goal of the ratification of the Convention. We explicitly condemn the spread of transphobic hysteria by the clerical-right, and also reject any marginalization of the rights of transgender persons in name of struggle for women’s rights, regardless of the extent of transgender rights mentioned in the Convention. Any struggle for women’s rights that leaves trans women on the margins cannot be considered to be the achievement for all women or a true alliance with LGBTIQ community. Protecting transgender people from violence should be our priority.
Through the inclusion of the interpretive statement, the Government and the Croatian Democratic Union have legitimized and introduced into the legal system a completely fictitious, non-existent term “gender ideology”. This will open the possibility for activists of clerical-right to oppose every attempt of change in social and cultural patterns of behaviour of women and men with the aim of eradicating prejudices, customs, and violence against all women (Article 12 of the Convention) by naming it “gender ideology”. The clerical right will do everything to prevent Croatia from protecting women from violence who are not married, trans women or women who have left their violent partners. We have already had the opportunity to hear that the family of a woman with children without a male partner is not a “natural environment” for children (Željka Markić in Veto on Jabuka TV, November 12, 2013).
This interpretive statement leads Croatia in the same direction of violating women‘s human rights as in Poland where the interpretive statement states that the Convention will be implemented in accordance with the Polish Constitution. What is the current situation in Poland in the context of protecting women from gender-based violence? The clerical-right demands the withdrawal of the ratification of the Convention, while the Polish Government is not implementing the Convention at all and introduces laws that violate women’s human rights. Because all of this Poland is de facto isolated within the European Union and the Council of Europe. With this statement, Croatia is on the same path and we will inform the international public and the Council of Europe about this.
We ask the Members of the Parliaments and representatives of the Croatian Parliament to remove the interpretive statement in Article 4 from the bill on the ratification of the Convention and adopt the text of the Convention as it has been signed.