In January, the LGBT family advocacy group Rainbow Families Croatia announced plans to distribute 500 free copies of My Rainbow Family (Moja Dugina Obitelj), a picture book about kids with same-sex parents. Within a few days, all the copies of the book were claimed, and Rainbow Families received hundreds of additional requests.
But the book also became the subject of criticism in the Catholic-majority country, where at least one religious group denounced it.
On February 4, organizers of an annual family carnival in the coastal town of Kastela set fire to a large cardboard replica of My Rainbow Family in front of hundreds of children and parents. Participants told reporters it was part of a tradition of burning something that “symbolizes evil.”
LGBT rights groups have filed a criminal complaint against the carnival organizers, Poklade, calling the incident a “public incitement to violence and hatred.”
Education Minister Blazenka Divjak also condemned the event.
“The burning of books and discrimination are unacceptable,” Divjak said in a statement. “We can agree or disagree on some topics in the public sphere, but the messages that we send to our children must contribute to building an open and tolerant society.”
Ultimately, though, headlines about the blaze seem to have helped Rainbow Families Croatia: The group launched an IndieGoGo campaign days later to print an additional 1,000 copies of My Rainbow Family in both Croatian and English.
The initial $3,000 goal was surpassed within 24 hours and, to date, they’re raised more than $9,600. If they reach $10,000, the crowdfund’s creators plan to print an additional 1,000 copies of the book, along with 1,000 copies of a coloring book version.
“We believe that we are contributing to the creation of a society in which the respect of diversity and the acceptance of all families is learned from a young age,” Rainbow Families Croatia’s Daniel Martinovic said in a statement. “The vision of our association is a society that respects, embraces and celebrates all families and this publishing venture is just one of the activities that we are doing to achieve that vision.”
Martinovic said the influx of donations indicates “that our fellow citizens have recognized that we share the same values, and that they are supporting us through this campaign.”
While anti-discrimination laws in Croatia address sexual orientation and same-sex couples can enter into domestic partnerships, they cannot adopt children. In addition homophobic and transphobic discrimination and violence isn’t uncommon: Last summer during Zagreb Pride, a canister of tear gas was thrown into a nightclub hosting a gay party.