Residents of a small Croatian town sparked outrage on Sunday when they chose to set fire to an effigy of a gay couple holding an adopted child as onlookers cheered and danced.
The fiery display was featured at the Bakova povorka, the pinnacle of a 150-year tradition of carnival festivities in Imotski, Croatia.
In a video of the hateful incident, dozens of children can be seen watching as the adults around them applaud and play celebratory music.
The child in the couple’s arms had a five-pointed star on his forehead (resembling that of the Yugoslav flag) and was adorned with the face of Nenad Stazić, a left-wing, Social Democratic Party member and a member of the Croatian parliament.
Stazić had recently declared his belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to foster children in Croatia.
Before the effigy was set on fire, an announcer yelled: “My head is spinning from this culture of death… This year, let’s set this grotesque family with baby Nenad Stazić on fire!”
Afterward, festival organizer, Milivoj Djuk, told Croatian Newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija, “We remain conservative, we stick to the tradition. Give your mother a baby, as the saying goes. We think it’s the right thing to do.”
In a Facebook Post, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic condemned the hateful act: “The symbolic burning of same-sex partners with a home-made child in Imotski is a sad, inhumane and totally unacceptable act in the guise of Carnival’s Baku festivities. The organizers who staged the shameful event, referring to the tradition, deserve the strongest condemnation of the public because hatred for others, intolerance and inhumanity are not and will not be a Croatian tradition.”
“I ask for their public apology and reaction from the relevant institutions, especially as many children watched the event, thus witnessing the spread of hatred and inciting violence,” he added.