Dragan Marković Palma found guilty of severe discrimination of LGBT population

Belgrade, 02.11.2011

Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) would like to inform the public that First Basic Court in Belgrade reached a first-degree guilty verdict against Dragan Marković Palma, mayor of the city of Jagodina, president of the parliamentary political party United Serbia (JS) and until recently a member of the Serbian Parliament, for severe form of discrimination of LGBT population.

First Basic Court approved the lawsuit based on the Anti-Discrimination Law which GSA Litigation Service filed against Marković on the 22nd August this year, and found that Dragan Marković Palma committed a severe form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation according to articles 11, 12, 13 and 21 of the Law.

Furthermore, the court has prohibited Marković from committing the same offence and ordered him to pay Gay Straight Alliance’s court expenses.

As a reminder, GSA Litigation Service filed a lawsuit against Marković because of his statement given to the media on 15 August 2011, when he said that “the position of United Serbia and my personal position is – that we are against every assembly where homosexuals demonstrate on the streets of Belgrade and wish to present something that is a disease as if it were normal“.

Articles 11, 12, 13 and 21 of the Anti-Discrimination Law, which were the basis of this verdict, relate to hate speech, harassment and humiliation, and foremost to severe form of discrimination. The explanation of the court decision among other things stated: “article 13 of the Anti-Discrimination Law defines the severe form of discrimination as inciting and encouraging inequality, hatred and bigotry on the basis of sexual orientation which is a severe form of discrimination particularly if it is done through public media, and, in this case, a personal characteristic, i.e. sexual orientation, was by the defendant (Marković) presented as a disease and as something abnormal, and this was done through public media, therefore committing severe discrimination“.

Gay Straight Alliance is satisfied with this decision, as well as the speed at which it was reached by the court, and we hope that it will not be overturned in second-degree proceedings and will become final. GSA places great strategic weight on this case especially because of the fact that this is the first time in Serbia that a politician was found guilty of severe discrimination and hate speech against LGBT population, and also because of the abuse of the most common social prejudice and falsehood about LGBT people that they are ill. Such statements of politicians and functionaries, especially those who frequently make public appearances like Dragan Marković Palma, must be severely sanctioned by the law, since politicians, whether they are in the government or in the opposition, bear the greatest responsibility for spreading tolerance and building a democratic society, culture of non-violence and respect of fundamental human rights.

Gay Straight Alliance has, in addition to the lawsuit on the basis of the Anti-Discrimination Law, filed criminal charges against Dragan Marković Palma for the afore-mentioned media statement from August 15, for committing the criminal acts- infraction of equality (article 128 of Criminal Code – CC), and racial and other discrimination (article 387 of CC), but this court procedure has not yet begun.

Finally, GSA would like to inform the public that the first hearing in the suit against Nebojša Bakarec, brought by GSA Litigation Service, has been scheduled for 22nd November 2011, in First Basic Court in Belgrade. Nebojša Bakarec is an alderman of Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) in Belgrade City Council. GSA filed a lawsuit against him because of his statements in a text written for website vidovdan.org that LGBT people are ill and are in need of professional help.

GSA Info Center