Croatia’s first same-sex parenting children’s book, My Rainbow Family, was launched at the French Institute in Zagreb on Thursday 18th January. Published by Croatia’s Rainbow Families Association with financial assistance from the French Embassy, the first run of 500 copies has already sold out.
Ivo Segota wrote the book as a way to bring visibility to same-sex families in a country where there is much opposition to homosexuality and rainbow children are negatively impacted by unfavourable reactions to their families.
In a statement given to media at the launch, Guillaume Colin from the French Embassy wrote that “The fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is one of the key priorities of France’s policy of human rights protection, which was why the French Embassy was proud to support the publishing of the picture book My Rainbow Family.”
Catholic Croatia recognizes same-sex life partnerships under the Life Partnership Act of 2014, which gives same-sex couples many of the rights of marriage, but 90% of the public voted no in a 2013 marriage equality referendum. The Catholic Church and right wing political parties were behind the referendum, using it to stop the government’s plan to legalise same-sex marriage.
The BBC is reporting that Croatia has been facing rising nationalism and fascism since it joined the EU in 2013, and neo-conservative group Vigilaire, which describes My Rainbow Family as "homosexual propaganda," is calling for the book to be banned in schools.
Discussing the process to enter the EU, Senada Selo-Sabic from Zagreb's Institute for Development and International Relations told the BBC that "Croatia made a mistake during the EU accession process - we silenced and marginalised everyone who didn't agree with this course of action. The political parties created this image of Croatia being very liberal, progressive and egalitarian. But in reality, it was only one side of the story."
Daniel Martinovic from the Rainbow Families Association says there's been a surprisingly positive response to the book from non-LGBT people. "When we first made the book, we only printed 500 copies, because we thought it would mostly be for us, our friends and supporters. But since the story went public we have had lots of parents saying: 'we are not LGBT, but we would really like a copy of the picture-book so we can show our children and discuss themes of equality, tolerance and diversity’.”
"Maybe this gives us hope for a change - that we'll move towards a more tolerant society."