Ten people were injured when violence broke out at a gay Pride march in Zagreb on Saturday.

Police arrested eight people, some of whom were reported to be armed with petrol bombs. A gang of around 20 young men taunted and abused the Pride participants.

Despite the Croatian government granting limited partnership rights for gay and lesbian couples, homophobia remains rife in the country, which is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

Homosexuality was legalised in Croatia in 1977, and the age of consent was equalised in 1998.

200 people took to the streets of the capital, Zagreb, to protest against discrimination and the physical and verbal abuse Croatian LGBT people suffer. Almost as many police were needed to protect them.

International support came in the form of an Italian senator, who was not injured.

“Around 10 people were hurt, with two needing medical treatment,” Marko Jurcic, one of the organisers, told AFP.

Croatia is not a member of the EU, but has applied to join and is regarded as likely to be admitted in 2009 or 2010. However, the homophobic attitude that pervades Croatian society is an issue for some EU officials.

In May a sex education programme in Croatia was criticised by the European Parliament because it encourages homophobia.

The programme teaches that there should be no sex outside marriage, no safe sex, and no gay sex.

In a letter sent to top Croatian officials, European Parliament deputies voiced “concern regarding the potential implementation … of a reproductive health and sexual curriculum put forward by the GROZD Association.”

The programme is accused of “supplying medically inaccurate and incomplete information about sexual and reproductive health and family planning as well as about available and legal contraceptive methods.”

Officials believe that the curriculum could encourage “stigma and discrimination.”