Regarding the statement of a member of Organizing Committee of the Pride Parade

Belgrade, 30.09.2012.

Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance) repudiates the statement given by Boban Stojanović, a member of the Organizing Committee of the Pride Parade, to a Croatian T-portal, in which he de facto says that the stance of GSA on this year’s parade is a result of „closeness“ to the Socialist Party of Serbia, as a falsehood in its entirety.

This Stojanović’s statement is not true and it represents a shameless attack on the integrity of GSA, since the GSA’s stance on everything related to the Pride parade and LGBT rights does not depend on any political party, and thus it does not depend on SPS. Also, GSA does not have a „close“ relationship with SPS, nor with any other party, but merely a professional one. Although we find it highly unbelievable that only a few days before the Parade, instead of working on organizing this event, Stojanović speaks about us, GSA wishes to thank him on this, primarily because he had finally brought up this falsehood in public and given us a chance that we also respond in such a way…

Alongside other programme activities, GSA lobbies and advocates for LGBT rights, in which it has achieved certain visible results. No, we do not “run towards bayonets“ with battle cries or hackneyed phrases, while making different “deals“ with politicians in the same time, all to the disadvantage to LGBT population. Yes, in the last few years, we have had dialogues on different topics related to the LGBT human rights and we cooperated with institutions and numerous political parties in Serbia, both governing and oppositional. We do this strategically and in a highly serious, principled, and transparent manner, which can be checked on our web site. We do not shy away from protesting and criticizing when it is needed, and we have court trials against both politicians who are in power or in opposition, which is the furthest an LGBT organization in Serbia has gone regarding the punishment for hate speech in political sphere.

For us, tolerance represents a political question. We are satisfied with our contribution to the fact that politicians nowadays have more affirmative opinions on LGBT population, that they openly support and take part in the activities of LGBT organizations, that many of them gave their support to the Pride Parade 2010. We take pride in putting LGBT rights on the socio-political agenda, and our further efforts will be to keep them there. Also, we do not believe that our goals need to be merely noting the position of LGBT population or “testing“ the state, our goal is to push the institutions into making real and positive steps towards equalizing the rights of LGBT population and increasing tolerance.

GSA does not choose the government and institutions according to our wishes, the citizens do so in elections. Our main criterion for cooperating with institutions and political parties is whether they are proeuropean, and whether they themselves cooperate and are recognized by the institutions of the European Union. We are aware of the fact that for making any kind of positive systematic change, a legal change or any other, it is not enough that we just talk about it, we, however, need to have a majority of support in the parliament or other authorised institution, which means that we need as widest political support as possible. We do not deny the responsibility and obligations of the state in many questions, but we in GSA also believe that political and any other support for any kind of activity does not come by itself, but we have a responsibility to provide it. This kind of responsible attitude we expect, maybe naively, from the others.

We find the ideas that we are (as Stojanović claims) “close“ with the party of the incumbent Prime Minister and that we with our “gay-lobby“ control his party (as Dveri claims) interesting, however this simply is not in compliance with our strategy and goals, and it is not even rational. We find the obvious coordination in attacking GSA by these statements of the Pride organizers and Dveri interesting as well, but we wish to believe that it is merely coincidental. However, limiting our work and cooperation to just one, any, political party in a stage when we all still talk about basic questions related to LGBT rights, would be a pure political dilettantism which could only inflict damage to LGBT population. And political amateurism, as it have been proved many times, cannot be attributed to GSA.

We, on the contrary, are trying to reach a wider consensus, to open dialogues and to cooperate with as many political factors as possible, both in office or in opposition, both on the left and right. Given that the policy and work field of our organization are related only to human, i.e. LGBT rights, we hold that this consensus is needed and possible, at least when it comes to those basic rights. We have also shown this in the past. This is why we will continue to sit and discuss with everybody who wishes to do so, who can, and/or who has the authority to work on improvement of LGBT rights. With institutions, and with people from SPS, from DS, from SNS, from other parties, as well as with Serbian citizens. This is our job and in this process GSA will, as always, try not to make enemies of LGBT population, but to make allies, in different fields which are related to the improvement of the position of LGBT people.

We will probably disappoint many “conspiracy theorists“ by doing so, but we have to say that we were never asked by any politician nor political party to change our stance, to speak something we do not believe in, nor to betray our principles for the sake of their particular interests. This is probably the result of our seriousness and professionalism, and the fact that we respect people we work with and the support we are given, as well as the fact that we find the integrity of GSA highly important. The only thing that can be considered as intervening was a “well-meant“ advice we were given in 2010 that we need to enter a public discussion with Dveri. We did not act on this since we believed that in doing so we would create in citizens a perception of two “extremes“, and that this would, in a homophobic society such as ours, only lead to a more stronger ultra-right wing and a more ghettoized LGBT population. We have to note that unfortunately there always is somebody else who will act like this…

Our approach and way of working have caused us many times to be labelled as “somebody’s“. Or, is it maybe better to say “everybody’s“? We often make jokes about this in GSA, because we know that we are capable and competent to make a good analysis of the whole context, to develop strategies and to work upon them till the end, on our own, without anyone’s “patronage“. Although, the point maybe is that those who attack us do not know how to work in any other way but being „somebody’s“…

However, there is a not particularly agreeable fact that such attacks mainly come from the NGO sector, i.e. from its “dogmatic“ part which cannot bear with the competition, which declare their opinion as the only valid opinion, while other opinions are usually not attacked with arguments but with scorn and labelling. This is why we suppose that the organizers of this year’s Parade find it in this moment, when we and the most part of LGBT population wonder whether everything really is ready for the Parade, whether the right messages are being sent to the public and whether with this Pride the LGBT rights are being used for different political and other negotiations, most suitable to call GSA “Dačić’s“. The truth is, it would also come handy to burden all kinds of responsibility on us, however, GSA will not allow to be an excuse for anything related to the Pride parade, since we ourselves do not find excuses and put responsibilities in other organizations.

The statement of Lazar Pavlović, the president of GSA, in the text published on T-portal, although not printed in its entirety, does represent a part of our stance on (non)organizing this year’s Parade, which is related to the state and the organizers. This stance, which is entirely legitimate and based on facts, is surely not the result of any kind of “closeness“ with any political party, but it represents the result of a comprehensive analysis, debates which has been held on a weekly basis inside the organization in last several years with our members and all interested people of the LGBT community about the Pride parade and other topics, as well as on the experience GSA had in organizing the Pride parade in 2010.

Our stance is not new, what is new, however, is the decision that GSA will not give a blanco support and will not be quiet like we did last year and many years before that. It has been proved that the price of our silence has been much bigger for LGBT population and the movement, as well as ourselves, than the price GSA has to pay for the stances we express in public. We believe that we have the right to express our opinion, mainly because it is related to something about which we possess great knowledge.