“Together for LGBT Equality” in Novi Sad

LGBT dolls in the city centre

Novi Sad, 14.06.2012

Today’s action “Demonstration of LGBT dolls“ in the centre of Novi Sad, which took place as a part of the project “Together for LGBT Equality“, drew a lot of attention from the citizens of Novi Sad and passed peacefully, without incidents. After postponing the activity which was initially planned for last Friday, cardboard dolls appeared today at the Square of Freedom in Novi Sad, with activists who distributed materials and brochures and talked to citizens about the status of LGBT people in Serbia.

Even though the activists had had certain fears as to how citizens would react, considering the level of homophobia in society and the fact that this was the first such action in the open organised by a group of LGBT organisations in a city, Novi Sad locals mostly reacted in a very positive way, they stopped to look at the dolls and read the signs they carried, they photographed themselves with the dolls and asked questions at the stand about the action and various other issues related to LGBT rights.

The activists were especially delighted by older citizens who were very interested in the action, most of all a gentleman who approached the stand and immediately asked where he could sign to show support, and who later in the conversation said that love was the only thing that mattered and that everyone had the right to love whomever they wanted. Great sympathies of our activists were also won by a young mother who patiently explained to her child what the dolls represented, as well as a lady who came to support the action because her son is gay. She wrote in the guest book: “I support my son who is gay and all the gays. It is just love, and love conquers all“.

Other citizens wrote their messages in the guest book which was at the stand. Some of them say: “Love for all!“; “I agree!“; “I love you a lot, you are brave, be always yourselves because you have all the rights that belong to all the people“; “Love will win! Just go on“; “It is not difficult to be nice and to tolerate differences. I wish you to win equality in a peaceful way, that is the right way. With a smile and a full heart, greetings and love from a professor from Novi Sad“. Towards the end of the action a Nataša left a message that says “We are all human“, which the organisers feel was fully demonstrated today by the citizens of Novi Sad. Of course, there were also citizens who did not approve of this activity, but they mostly just passed quickly by the dolls and rarely gave some negative comment, however everything went without a single incident.

The action also drew media attention, and on this occasion Lazar Pavlović from Gay Straight Alliance stated that “today’s action aims to break prejudices and stereotypes around LGBT people in the society. Citizens have the opportunity to see the messages which the dolls carry, and those messages are explained in the brochures which are distributed by our activists; they can also talk to the activists about the burning problems of LGBT people and everything else they are interested in regarding LGBT rights. This action is not the Parade or its substitution, but it is one of the ways to increase tolerance towards LGBT people in society and to reduce bigotry against them. Such actions will take place in several other cities in Serbia during June – the month of LGBT rights. Within the project there are also film screenings, distributing informative magazines, panel discussions, promotional parties, and similar.”

Several days ago, other activities within the project “Together for LGBT Equality“ were held in Novi Sad. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina hosted free film screenings of a German lesbian film “My Friend From Faro“ and a British gay film “Weekend“. The sixth issue of the magazine “Optimist“, published as a special edition as a part of this project, is dedicated to the music of global LGBT performers. This topic was motivated by the upcoming music festival Exit and the visit of the music band “Gossip“, whose singer has been a feminist and lesbian activist for many years. The magazine also contains various interesting articles about the culture and creative work of LGBT people, as well as about activism, and so, apart from the regular channels of distribution, the magazine is also distributed at all project activities. Judging from the comments on social networks, when it comes to the choice of articles and the appearance of the cover, many claim that this is the best issue of the “Optimist“ so far.

Loud&Queer and EXIT festival are preparing a queer stage for the second year in a row at one of the best European festivals. A party to promote the queer stage, held on 8 June in the Novi Sad club “Yellow“ at the Petrovaradin Fortress, gathered around 300 LGBT people and their straight friends, who had a great time to the beats of well-known DJs from Belgrade and Zagreb. The visitors of the club could get promotional materials for EXIT Loud & Queer Cruising Point Stage. They were also able to see promotional videos of the festival and footage from the stage at the last year’s festival.

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Project “Together for LGBT Equality“, through various activities in several Serbian cities, aims to contribute towards destroying prejudices against the LGBT population, to promote the principles of equality and non-violence and the need for reducing discrimination, as well as to act in a positive way on the wider social community and draw attention to the significance of tolerance, equality and the respect of diversity.

This project was chosen for the programme “The Human Rights Calendar“ which is being realised by the Human and Minority Rights Directorate of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self-Government, with the support of the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Belgrade. The project is realised by five non-governmental organisations which deal with human and LGBT rights in Serbia in different fields: Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Gay Lesbian Info Centre (GLIC), Centre for Queer Studies (CKS), Loud & Queer and Q-club, while outside partners include EXIT Festival, The Home of Youth in Belgrade, as well as cultural institutions in several Serbian cities.

During June – the month of LGBT rights, there will be film screenings, interactive street actions and performances, distribution of brochures and informative magazines, panel discussions, promotional parties, and other activities. The project began on 8 June in Novi Sad, and it will end on 30 June in Belgrade.

Info Centre GSA

 

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