By Marija Avramovic – Zagreb
Ever since Oliver Frljić became general manager of Rijeka’s Croatian national theater (HNK), changes started to happen in the house, with the most recent sparking reactions from the right wing clerical as well as from many cultural officers.
“Renaming HNK into ‘Croatia’s LGBT Ivan pl. Zajc Rijeka, which was set at the front of the theater building on Independence Day, October 8, and at the same time placing the flag with the colors of the rainbow, is the act that the new theater’s administration continues the program on a new and different HNK Rijeka, open to minority communities that so far, as they say, were not at all or adequately represented”, the theater stated in its press release.
“This symbolic gesture of renaming is just the beginning of HNK Rijeka efforts, so that the attribute ‘national’ in its name confirms it as a gathering place for all citizens, regardless of social status, ethnicity, education, age, religion, gender and sexual identities. People’s Theater – The theater to the people!”, announced HNK Rijeka.
The discussion on this controversial Frljic’s act ranges from the criticism of many theatrologists, theater workers, historians, right-wing organizations, who consider it to be inapt, to the call of the Croatian Party of Rights to State Attorney’s Office to review whether this Frljic’s act contains elements of an offense provided for in Article 349 of the Criminal Code, which cite “whoever exposes Croatia, its flag, emblem and anthem to ridicule, contempt or severe disdain, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one year”.
Candidate in the presidential race, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, also spoke on the “Frljic” issue in front of the Croatian Democratic Union.
“I heard something about what Oliver Frljić did, and I couldn’t believe my ears. Everyone can hang whatever they want on their balcony, but this is a public institution. We should respect the country, Independence Day, all those who gave their lives for this country. It is not a day for jokes and mockery with state symbols”, she said.
“From her statement we can conclude that the symbols of the LGBT community automatically offend the country that she would lead; its holiday’s, citizens and those who gave their lives and fought or in any way contributed to Croatian independence”, Frljić wrote yesterday in an article for the portal lupiga.com.
“For the media friendly to the leaders of the biggest opposition party and most of the exposed participants of local theater scene, it seems that for members of the LGBT community there will be no winter. Opening of the ghetto in which they could, hidden from the view of the hetero-majority, hang their symbols seems like the best option. In this fenced area another minority can join them, one that does not stop terrorizing the feelings of the majority with the boards written in their letters”, Frljic suggested ironically at the end of the text.