Annual Report on the status of human rights of GLBT people in Serbia for 2010 – “Step by Step”

As opposed to two years ago when, on the same occasion, Sava Centre forbade the conference to be held there, Gay Straight Alliance held a conference today to present its annual Report on the state of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Serbia for 2010 – “Step by Step“ – in the Belgrade City Hall.

::: Annual Report 2010 ::: (pdf download)

At the presentation moderated by Mirjana Bogdanović, executive director of GSA, were the following speakers:

  • Mr. Dragan Đilas – Mayor of Belgrade
  • Mr. Nenad Đurđević – Head of the Directorate of human and minority rights in the Ministry of human and minority rights, public admistration and local self-government
  • Mr. Dejan Ranđić – President of the Working Group for improving security in the City of Belgrade and City Councilman
  • Mr. Adriano Martins – Deputy Head of EU Delegation in Serbia
  • Mr. Bill Longhurst – Deputy Ambassador of Great Britain in Belgrade
  • Ms. Sonja Licht – President of Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE)
  • Mr. Vladimir Todorić – Director of New Policy Center (CNP)
  • Mr. Lazar Pavlović – President of GSA
  • Mr. Veroljub Đukić – Lawyer, Litigation service of GSA

The presentation was attended by numerous guests from LGBT organisations, non-governmental sector, international organisations, diplomatic corps and political parties, as well as numerous media.

::: ANNUAL REPORT (2010) “STEP BY STEP” – Download ::: (pdf)

From the addresses of the speakers:

Mayor of Belgrade Dragan Đilas expressed his conviction that the majority of Belgrade citizens supports the basic human rights of every individual and that the only differences of opinion may exist regarding the manner which someone might choose to exercise those rights. “We wish to live in a Belgrade where on such occasions as this it is not necessary to have special police security in front of the Assembly door. I am convinced that the citizens of Belgrade wish to live in a city where they do not have problems because of a different skin colour, religion, or sexual orientation”, Đilas said. Đilas stated that the promotion of tolerance should no longer remain declarative simply because it is now popular for politicians to advocate for LGBT rights, but that tolerance should be taught from early on. “One more year Belgrade will have a mayor who will advocate for the right of every citizen to express his or her sexual orientation in every public space”, said Đilas. He added that the City will aid various projects which are related to human rights, including a project for providing a safe space for LGBT people who have been rejected by their family members, and founding the house of human rights which will be a home to all non-governmental organizations that fight for human rights.

Head of the Directorate of human and minority rights Nenad Đurđević said that Serbia is still after years of isolation a homophobic society. “Living one’s own identity in Serbia is not easy, regardless of what this identity is”, he said. The Directorate will work on improving the quality of life of the LGBT population. “As government representatives we are fighting with all forms of discrimination and homophobia, and we support expressing opinions and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. We will design systemic measures together, we are still rather far from the finish line but there have been steps forward “, stated Đurđević.

Deputy Head of EU Delegation in Serbia Adriano Martins emphasized that the rule of law and human and minority rights are the key criteria which determine the speed of joining EU. “A country will integrate more or less quickly regarding its ability to apply European values. EU is not an economic organization but a union of values which form its pillars”, stated Martins. He said that the protection of human rights in Serbia is a challenge which demands a change in people’s minds, in order for everyone to live freely. Martins said that in Serbia there has been some progress in this field and that the government has shown determination to improve the guarantees of minority rights. LGBT population is still a vulnerable group, subject to hate speech, he concluded, adding that the promotion of tolerance in Serbia ought to be a priority.

President of the Working group for improving security in Belgrade Dejan Ranđić stated that no one can ignore the progress in the fight for human rights which resulted from the last year’s gay parade. “We talk too much about October 10, 2010, which clearly showed differences and intolerance, still deeply rooted in our society. This report is a journal of incidents – consequences of intolerance, but we need to institute a system of prevention and education 365 days a year. The Parade is just one day”, said Ranđić.

Pointing to the importance of the Report on human rights, the president of Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence Sonja Licht said that without documenting individual cases of human rights violations, human rights cannot evolve. “This is a step in raising the entire society’s awareness of the fact that some people’s rights are endangered because they are different and because they dare to live that right to be different”, said Liht and concluded by saying that “promising winds are beginning to blow through our parts”.

Before the presentation of the Report, also in the Belgrade City Assembly, on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), GSA organised a panel discussion called “Measures for reducing violence and discrimination against LGBT people in Serbia” to which government and city institutions had been invited, and which had the goal to open a dialogue between these institutions and the LGBT movement on the possibilities and ways of cooperation in improving the position of LGBT population.

Dejan Ranđić, one of the introductory panel speakers, said at that time: “Not so long ago, only two years ago, we all raised our voice together against an institution of this city which refused to allow an assembly such as this to be organised in Sava Centre. Today we are in the City Assembly and I think that this also symbolizes the first step of a qualitative change. I believe that this city is ready for differences and tolerance and that it accepts people regardless of their national, religious, political, sexual or any other orientation.“ He added that there is an organised but a minority group of people who tried several times in these past couple of years to send a violent message that Belgrade does not accept diversity. “The City of Belgrade took as an inducement the events surrounding the Pride Parade on October 10 last year, in order to position ourselves regarding the issue of safety in the capital in an organised, thorough and systemic way. I think that this is a precedent and a positive step forward inasmuch that this topic of security is now in the domain of the local self-government, and that this is a good example for other cities in Serbia.“

Activists of GSA handed out to all who were present at the panel discussion, as well as guests at the presentation of the Report, “Rainbow Europe Map and Index” – the European map of legal and administrative protection of human LGBT rights violations, which was created by ILGA Europe and in which Serbia received mark 2 on the scale from -7 to +17.

::: The European map of legal and administrative protection of human LGBT rights violations, May 2011 – 1. part ::: ILGA Europe :::

::: The European map of legal and administrative protection of human LGBT rights violations, May 2011 – 2. part ::: ILGA Europe :::

GSA Info Center
(Other sources: Beta, Tanjug, Fonet, LDP, City of Belgrade)

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