Vesna Pesic, guest of the GSA at the meeting with GSA members

Belgrade, 09.11.2012

On Wednesday, November 7, 2012, Dr. Vesna Pesic, sociologist and ex MP in several convolutions of parliament was a guest at the weekly meeting of the Gay straight alliance’s (GSA; Alliance) members. Vesna Pesic is a prominent member of the Serbian sociopolitical scene and founder of numerous organizations fighting for peace and human rights. She was one of the leaders of the coalition “Together, Zajedno” which organized huge protests lasting for months for the election fraud by Milosevic’s regime in 1996/97. She was the founder and the first president of the Civic Alliance of Serbia (CAS, GSS), political party that during the 90’s conducted pronouncedly anti war politics, and after the merging of GSS and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 2007, she became a president of the Political Council of the LDP. She received a numerous international rewards for democracy, and in 1997 she was nominated for a Nobel peace prize. She retired from LDP and politics in 2011, but is still very active in public and working on sociological and political analysis.

There was a huge interest among GSA members for this meeting, and in the almost two hour conversation a number of topics were discussed, current political situation, Serbian May elections and current electoral system, status of the human rights, turmoil in the Democratic party (DS), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and other political parties, “blank ballots”, social tendencies, etc. GSA members had numerous questions and comments, and GSA guest was also interested to hear about the status of the LGBT rights from the present GSA members, as well as about the situation within the LGBT movement.

Larger part of her introductory speech Dr. Pesic dedicated to the analysis of the Serbian general elections held on May and lack of the electoral system, changes in the government and reasons that led to it, the criticism of the previous President of Serbia Boris Tadic, reasons for launching “blank ballots” campaign, as well as to the criticism of the judicial system reform during the former government’s mandate. Current proportional electoral system is very bad according to her because it gives power to the political parties to practically decide instead of the citizens of who is going to represent them in the parliament, and should be replaced with the mixed electoral system. “With proportional system you have a situation of having always the same people circulating on the political scene, and differences between political options are decreasing or almost disappearing for the purpose of preserving personal positions” said Vesna Pesic, and added that Serbia needs new political forces and that new people should be brought, because the politicians are the same ones for years and decades, but also that she does not see at the moment that the real new force really exists. Comparing the work of the previous and current government, she said that she does not see a significant difference, but noticed that the authority of the current President of Serbia is now returned within the Constitutional frame.

Responding to the questions Vesna Pesic, among other things, said also that regardless the fact that in the current government some people are from that era, it can not be drawn parallels between the nineties and today: “In the nineties you had wars, sanctions from the international community, precipitous drop of the citizens living standard, of the income, country’s credit rating, etc. In the nineties you had a kind of semi dictatorship, that we cannot call a classic dictatorship because you had elections all the time, more often than after the changes in the 2000. Today non of it exists. And even though the state and the society are in a difficult and unenviable situation, and we have the some people same in power as in the nineties, still we cannot say that it is all the same and that we are going back into the nineties, because it is not realistic”.

When discussing human and LGBT rights, Dr. Pesic was talking about the development of LGBT rights in the USA and made few comparisons between our and the American society. She thinks that LGBT issues should be brought closer to a broader spectrum of ordinary citizens of Serbia through some kind of normalization with the heterosexual majority: “I think that one of the good ways to accomplish that is for example through TV shows and movies where you always have a gay character, which would send a message that LGBT individuals are also citizens of our country, our neighbors”. Also, she added, even though there are still a lot of problems, there is some progress in Serbia regarding LGBT rights.

In the end, while responding to the question regarding the future of the “blank ballots”, she concluded that in this (proportional) electoral system it cannot accomplish a bigger influence as it could in the majoritarian electoral system.

Dr Vesna Pesic gave to the Gay Straight Alliance her book “Wild Society” which parts she had discussed during the meeting and promised to the participants that this conversation would be continued and broadened.

Upon GSA invitation, at the meeting with Dr. Pesic, together with the members of the Alliance, presidents of the partner LGBT organizations – Dusan Maljkovic from the Center for Queer Studies and Predrag Azdejkovic from the Gay Lesbian Info Center were also present, and actively participated at the discussion.

For GSA inclusion is not only the goal, but also the way of work. Alliance is membership based organization, it gathers LGBT and straight individuals, and its members are persons of different ages, various professions and occupations, different political views and attitudes…who together fight for the decrease of the violence and discrimination. For already two years, every Wednesday (excluding the period of the summer break) GSA organize in its office meetings called “In the middle of Wednesday”, at which all interested members can participate, and that have as a goal to strengthen internal democracy, debate and organizational dynamics. At these meetings GSA members are discussed organizational activities and plans, analyzed and proposed the ideas, as well as analyzed GSA achievements, stances and further strategies. Considering that GSA acts a lot in the public and political sphere, GSA leadership and members on these meetings also discussed current sociopolitical situation as well as many important events. Occasionally, on those Wednesday meetings GSA invites prominent guests from the institutions, different political parties, other non-governmental organizations, academic community, diplomatic corps, international organizations, media… who discussed with GSA members not only LGBT and human rights, but many other topics from a much broader sociopolitical context. Also, members are encouraged to propose guests that they would like to see and talk to. Dr. Pesic was the first guest in this season of the meetings “In the middle of Wednesday”, and in the period to come we will have many other guests from different areas and fields of activity.

GSA Info Center