On the occasion of the 30th regular session of the United Nation’s Council of Human Rights, which took place from September 14th to October 2nd in Geneva, Zagreb Pride member Jelena Poštić delivered a speech on behalf of Zagreb Pride and Trans Aid Croatia in response to the Croatia’s national report of the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights (you can find the speech at 30:45 http://www.voxfeminae.net/vijestice-list/hrvatska/item/8459-zagreb-pride-i-transaid-pred-un-om-najavili-zagovaranje-progresivnog-zakona-o-rodnom-identitetu).
It is alarming that the right to gender identity is still being denied to most trans* persons in Croatia even though regulations which should ensure it exist. Namely, Poštić warned that the Regulation about obtaining medical documentation and determining requirements and preconditions for gender affirming surgery and/or life in different gender identity, adopted in 2014, is ineffective because the body responsible for their implementation, the National Health Council, continues to reject or ignore requests for the change of gender markers. He appealed to the Croatian government to urgently ensure respect for the right to gender identity and the right to bodily autonomy, respect for the dignity and access to human and civil rights for trans* persons in Croatia. Furthermore, he called for the implementation of the recommendations of the United States, in order to strengthen the protection of human rights of LGBTIQ persons, in line with the Croatian international commitments and national legislation.
The regulations regarding legal gender recognition must ensure that the gender markers in the official document are changed only based on the person’s statement about her gender identity and in the shortest time possible, without the person having to undergo several medical examinations or being diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, which represents a violation against a person’s bodily autonomy and personal integrity. This is crucial for securing the access to many aspects of institutional assistance for trans* persons, including access to shelters for women victims of violence. As our research has shown, one transwoman was denied access to a shelter because she did not report the violence to the police, which she did not do because of fearing a transphobic reaction from the police officer when seeing her identity card with the male gender marker.
In the chapter Women’s Rights and Combating Domestic Violence of the National report from February 2015, Croatia informed the Council that “shelters for women and children who are the victims of domestic violence continue to be financed, and aid is provided to victims via social welfare centres. The State Attorney’s Office of the Republic of Croatia prosecutes perpetrators and keeps special records (gender of the accused, gender and age of the victim; type of activity; type of ruling). Records are kept on other criminal acts with elements of violence against women, and attention is given to questioning victims and avoiding secondary victimisation (particularly in the case of rape). The Ministry of Interior keeps detailed statistics on the characteristics, state and trends of domestic violence. More than 4000 police officials have passed through various forms of education in the area of domestic violence and violence against women”. However, one of the Council’s suggestions to Croatia from the session in September, relevant for our project, is the recommendation to have more regional shelters for victims of sexual violence. This has been an often addressed problem regarding the protection of victims in Croatia, and was also one of the impediments that the above mentioned interviewee faced, since she had to move from her home town to the capital in order to find protection and support.
We would like to conclude and underline that legal gender recognition, the opening of more regional shelters for victims of violence and not requiring the report for the acceptance in the shelters would be crucial for the improvement of the existing measures and services in order to avoid the impediments faced by the participants in our research.
 Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Eighth session 2015, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21* Croatia, viewed 27 October 2015, http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G15/020/61/PDF/G1502061.pdf?OpenElement