„GONG for citizen activism and democratic development“ goes to Split Pride 2011

27. June 2012.

„Citizen activism is still quite an endemic occurrence in Croatia, while the citizen courage is a virtue possessed by rare ones among us” said Nives Miošić, Head of GONG Research Centre, during today’s award giving ceremony at the Faculty of Political Science. The annual award of the GONG Council was given for the third time, aiming to encourage the development of democratic values. The award entitled “GONG for citizen activism and democratic development“ was given to the civil society organisations Domine, Iskorak and Kontra for the Split Pride 2011.

„Citizen activism is still quite an endemic occurrence in Croatia, while the citizen courage is a virtue possessed by rare ones among us” saidNives Miošić, Head of GONG Research Centre, during today’s award giving ceremony at the Faculty of Political Science. The annual award of the GONG Council was given for the third time, aiming to encourage the development of democratic values.

The award entitled “GONG for citizen activism and democratic development“ was given to the civil society organisations Domine, Iskorak and Kontra for the Split Pride 2011. Organising the first Gay Pride in Split held in 2011 under the slogan “Different Families, Equal Rights” was inspired by discrimination of the same-sex couples in everyday family life, with the purpose of initiating a public discussion on the need to change the legal framework that discriminates the same-sex couple families in Croatia.

“We are not used to life in a multicultural society – a society made of different groups sharing different values. Therefore, the most important argument for giving this award was the courage and determination in defending the rights of minorities.” as pointed out by Nenad Zakošek, member of the GONG Council and Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, wishing that the winners would see this award as an incentive to organise the Gay Pride next year as well.

Sanja Juras, coordinator of the organisation called Kontra, reminded us that the last year’s Split Pride was marked by violence: “The state failed to ensure us the right to gather in public, but this year we made it anyway. However, to ensure public gathering is not enough. The state must be actively involved in protection of all human rights of its citizens, which definitely includes LGBT&Q persons. We call for changes in the family law and changes in the definition of marriage and common law relationship, in order to enable the same-sex couple families to enjoy the rights absolutely equal to those enjoyed by the families of the opposite-sex couples in Croatia.“

Apart from support by the state, support is also needed from the citizens, and it must be developed through the education system. “It is necessary to transform the schools in terms of developing the democratic culture of schools, including a different system of education management. Today we have authoritarian schools that call themselves democratic. What we lack the most in Croatia, is a responsive school that takes care of individual needs of students and teachers.“, warned Vedrana Spajić – Vrkaš, professor at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and pointed out that the National Curriculum for Citizenship Education will be sent out to the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports today, and we hope that it will be put out for public discussion once again.
Precisely because of the lack of formal education in the areas of democratic citizenship and human rights, GONG has developed an education programme entitled “Civic Literacy“. The programme was successfully completed by about 20 professors of politics and economics, who were today given their certificates, together with nine members of the Internship Programme 2011/2012 designed to bring together the young enthusiasts – students who were this way given the insight into what it meant to work in a non-governmental activist organisation.

We hope that this is one more way for us to make a contribution to the development of democratic political culture and the tolerance of differences, as well as to contribute to the democracy as a way of life.

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