We asked political parties to give us their stance on LGBT population

Interview with Mirjana Bogdanovic, executive director of GSA, “Press” daily newspaper

Gay straight alliance (GSA) launched the “It’s important!” campaign, inviting LGBT people to come out and vote in largest number possible for those political options that are advocating for the improvement of LGBT population’s position.

A bit more affirmative approach towards the LGBT populations for now comes from the smaller parties such as LDP, SDU, LSV, while other political options are generally holding a broad approach, such as “rights for all citizens”. GSA will present a detailed report before the elections, containing positions of all political parties on LGBT rights in accordance to the announced criteria – says for the Sunday daily newspaper “Press”, Mirjana Bogdanovic, executive director and founder of the GSA.

Q: Mufti Muamer Zukorlic (presidential candidate) in one TV show did not want to comment your invitation to the political parties to offer concrete solutions for the reduction of violence, discrimination and homophobia, in case they come to power. He told he would respond if you send it to him via mail. Did he respond to you?

A: The official invitation was sent to all who participate in the elections excluding “Dveri”, since we have no doubts about their position on LGBT rights – they as an organization were built just on homophobia. Few days ago we have sent a questionnaire (addressing the concrete measures they would be willing to undertake in order to decrease violence and discrimination) to all presidential candidates, holders of the lists for parliamentary elections and all candidates that are first on these lists. Considering that he based his political position indicating the disrespect of human rights of one of the national minorities, it will be very interesting to hear Mr. Zukorlic’s stance regarding the rights of other minorities and minority groups in Serbia.

Q: Do political parties pay enough attention during the campaign to LGBT voters and their rights and problems?

A: If we compare this election to the previous ones we can say that LGBT rights are more talked about, but it is mostly the merit of organizations such as GSA, that through their campaigns actualize this question. But, if we are to compare the situation in Serbia to that in other countries, especially with the USA and members of the EU, than it brings us to conclusion that our political parties still do not recognize enough the voters’ potential of the LGBT population, representing 5 to 10 percent of the entire population by global estimates.

Q: Is GSA going to support the “Pride parade” this year?

A: The Pride parade is an important tool in the fight for LGBT rights, and it should not be a mean in itself, but an instrument that will help decrease violence and discrimination. Last year a completely wrong public discourse and atmosphere were created, where the Parade was presented as the only important for the LGBT population, something that GSA does not agree with. There are no doubts that the state bears the biggest responsibility to provide conditions for Pride, but it is also a duty of the organizers to show the earnestness, devotion and sincere intention to organize this event and adequately represent LGBT population. In that case GSA would give them its support and help.

Q: Why are there discrepancies among LGBT organizations in Serbia?

A: That question goes beyond the frames of the LGBT movement and the answers are to be looked for in the state of the whole non-governmental sector in Serbia. I am primarily referring to the existence of at least two different conceptions of work which are reflected in the positioning of the NGO’s in the Serbian euro-integrations process, as well as in their relation to the state. Hence, we have a current that is somewhat rigid and its actions are based largely on criticism, and a second one, somewhat more pragmatic that wants to participate in socio-political processes and is more result-oriented. Both approaches are legitimate and I do not think that their existence is bad, quite the contrary. Very simply, it is about different methodologies, and it is upon all of us to articulate those differences through valid arguments when we defend our positions or deny others.

(„Press” daily newspapper, Sunday 22.04.2012.)