Banning Obraz can be a turning point if state continues systemic battle against violence

Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance) applauds the decision of the Constitutional Court of Serbia to ban the extremist rightwing organisation “Otačastveni pokret Obraz” and feels that this important decision could be a turning point in the state’s attitude towards violence. GSA therefore appeals to the state and its institutions to continue the systemic battle for reducing violence and discrimination.

The Constitutional Court of Serbia made a ruling today in the case of Obraz, with the decision to ban this organisation because of activities directed at violating guaranteed human and minority rights and at inciting hatred. The Court ordered that this organisation be deleted from the Associations Register of the Serbian Business Registers Agency.

GSA is also satisfied with the explanation of this decision, since it shows that the Constitutional Court has recognised a burning social need to build a democratic and tolerant society through the protection of legal order and social values, as well as through the prevention of “all phenomena which could, especially by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear for entire social groups, annul the efforts which represent the democratic tradition of the Serbian people”.

The Court has furthermore judged that from the acts and activities of the association Obraz “such attitudes stem which fundamentally discriminate against citizens on personal basis, which are carried out through hate speech, harrassment and humiliating behaviour, all of which are aimed at violating the freedoms and rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution, the principles of the rule of law, the principles of civic democracy and affiliation to European principles and values, as the fundamental principles upon which the constitutional order of the Republic of Serbia rests”.

The Court concluded that the ban of Obraz was necessary and that this was evident because, through its proclaimed principles, activities and support of violence, Obraz was advocating a model of society which is based on discrimination of certain ethnic, religious, sexual and other groups and because it accepted violence as a method for accomplishing goals.

Alliance expects the Constitutional Court to conclude other cases for banning similar organisations and groups with the same decision as soon as possible. However, GSA does not believe that such measures will be enough for solving the problem of rightwing extremism and widespread violence, unless the state continue with systemic measures to reduce and prevent violence and discrimination, such as introducing the concept of hate crime in the Criminal Code, improving the efficiency of police and judiciary in cases of violence and discrimination, investing in educating the citizens and raising their awareness on tolerance, and so on.

GSA reminds that the Republic Prosecutor filed a motion to ban Obraz and other extremist rightwing organisations and groups in October 2009 after that year’s Pride Parade did not take place. Representatives of GSA testified in court on several occasions against the leader and members of Obraz, in cases of hatred and discrimination against the LGBT population and obstruction of the 2009 Pride Parade, as well as the 2010 Pride Parade when GSA was the key organiser.

Info Centre GSA