Allow us to introduce our informal initiative The Voice of Reason – Initiative for Secular Croatia.
We are a group of individuals and associated organizations that, under the name Coordination for Secular Croatia, organized the Reason Rally in Zagreb in mid- Januray 2013 in order to support thesecular values and the Government’s implementation of health education into the educational system. We have received a great deal of support from the public, the rally was very well-visited and the message reached a wide audience both in Croatia and the wider region. At the same time the Split Reason Rally was organized by the initiative Young Citizens of Split for Health Education. With the new structure, as a group of aware citizens, and under the a name, The Voice of Reason – Initiative for Secular Croatia, our intention is to continue our work in protecting secular values and human rights. Our purpose is an actual separation of religious institutions from the state- as stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia- in article 41.
We would like to inform you that Ms. Judith Reisman, a professor of law at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virgina has just visited Croatia. She arrived with Timothy Tate, a British investigative journalist. Ms. Reisman, who holds degrees in Communications, came to Croatia to defame the health education curriculum as a product of a „criminal homosexual-pedophiliac“ work of Alfred Kinsey.Ms. Reisman claims that consuming pornography provokes the formation of „erototoxines“ which she has yet to provide scientific evidence for. It is also known that in 1991 she sued the Kinsey Institute of the University of Indiana, but the case was dismissed with prejudice in 1994 which means Ms. Reisman was prohibited from refiling the suit. Her work has not been published in any peer-reviewed scientific journal and she is the person who wrote a review of the book Pink Swastika, which promotes completely false and extremely dangerous claims about the connection between homosexuals and the Nazi movement. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has recently stated that Judith Reisman undermined the historical truth of the Holocaust.
Ms. Reisman was invited to Croatia by the Vigilare association and the Croatian Centre for the Renewal of Culture to give some lectures and to participate in public discussions. The president of the Croatian Centre for the Renewal of Culture, Stjepan Bartulica, is the advisor to the President of Croatia which we find very disturbing. The administrative board of the same organization consists ofthe student chaplain Damir Stojić and the professor at Yale University and the member of the Croatian Helsinki Committee Ivo Banac. The visit of Ms. Reisman was closely monitored by Krešimir Miletić, a spokesman for Vigilare, and Vice John Batarelo, the Executive Director of the Office for Family Life at the Archdiocese of Zagreb. Ms. Reisman was asked to deliver a speech in the Croatian Parliament on sex education and the experiences in the USA by the Croatian Democratic Union, the second largest parliamentary party.
On 29th January our initiative sent an open letter to the President of the Croatian Parliament and expressed concern that a person, who openly states her homophobic views and trivializes and distorts the Holocaust with her theories of the connection of homosexuals and the Nazi movement, would be welcome to give a speech in the Parliament of a democratic country, in order to prevent it. Homophobia and trivializing the Holocaust are in a direct contradiction to the laws and the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Our initiative has been confronted by the aforementioned associations as the one that denies freedom of speech. Even the member of the Croatian Helsinki Committee, Ivo Banac, called our spokesman Željko Peratović an antisemite in a television show. Dr. Ante Ćorušić, a gynaecologist and a member of Croatian Democratic Union, the one that invited Judith Reisman to the Parliament, stated that he hoped homosexuals can be cured and live a normal Christian life. Ms. Reisman repeated her homophobic views and scientifically unsupported claims on different occasions. Despite all this, she was received by the cardinal Josip Bozanić and the mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić and offered a public apology in the name of believers and the citizens of Zagreb for „the anti-Semitic and non-democratic attacks she had experienced in Croatia“. She was also received by the rabbi Kotel Da-Don of the Bet Israel community.
Ms. Resiman has not only offended the academic community, but she has also upset the entire Croatian public. She has gravely insulted a highly reputable Croatian sociologist, university professor and one of the authors of the health education curriculum Aleksandar Štulhofer directly accusing him of trying to implement pornography and paedophilia as positive values into the aforementionedcurriculum.
Despite the positive laws and regulations on freedom of speech and preventing discrimination, Ms. Reisman has talked about her views in various institutions: in the Parliament, during her numerous public and television appearances, newspaper interviews and visits to well-known public figures. At the end of her visit she employed lawyer Zvonimir Hodak who threatened the Croatian media with lawsuits about their criticism while reporting about Ms. Reisman’s stay in Croatia to face the charges for insult, libel or disgrace. Criminal penalties for defamation are new in the Croatian legislation and before being passed were heavily criticized by the Croatian Journalists’ Association emphasizing the possibility of misuse by attempting to prevent freedom of press and expression, which could happen should Mr. Hodak and Ms. Reisman carry out their threats.
As advocates of secularity, constitutional and human-rights values, with great concern we followed Ms. Reisman’s visit to Croatia, a country that in less than 5 months will become the 28th member of the European Union. We think stating these malicious untruths is a way of destabilizing and compromising the legally elected Government. The Catholic church, through the associated organizations, has entered the political arena trying to destabilize the state and the system as well asattempting coup d’etat with one goal only- the maintenance of the privileges and the money from the state’s budget.
Recent newspaper articles write about Vigilare’s request for the resignation of the Minister of Education Željko Jovanović, the director of the Croatian Agency for Education Vinko Filipović and the aforementioned sociologist Aleksandar Štulhofer, and further personal inappropriate attacks of Mr. Hodak through his blog with the journalists who critically wrote about his client only proves us right.
Zagreb, 12th February 2013
The Voice of Reason – Initiative for Secular Croatia