GSA open letter to Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić


Below you can read the integral version of the letter that Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance) sent today to the Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić regarding his statement about homosexuality.

Gej strejt alijansa

Government of the Republic of Serbia
Mr Ivica Dačić, Prime Minister
Nemanjina 11, Belgrade

Dear Mr Dačić,

We are writing to you on behalf of Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance), which deals with the protection and promotion of human rights of LGBT people, and regarding your statement two days ago, covered by almost all media in Serbia, in which you are responding to journalists’ questions about the possibilities of holding this year’s Pride Parade and the safety of the event, when among other things you expressed the view that homosexuality is “not normal and natural.”

This attitude made us very much surprised, and disappointed, given that the GSA has for many years followed the statements of government officials and politicians referring to the LGBT population, and we have not recorded this or similar homophobic statements coming from you. On the contrary, even though you were often in a position as a high government official and the president of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) to present your views on the status and activities of LGBT people and organizations in Serbia, you had never before allowed yourself such an inappropriate, incorrect and irresponsible claim as the above mentioned statement. Also, we are very surprised by the notable absence of any response from the domestic and international public and organizations who are most concerned, and therefore we have decided not to be the ones who are silent and who make compromises that will deliver nothing good to the LGBT community and the society as a whole. Instead of making statements and merely condemning your words, and they are to be condemned, we address you in this way in order to make you and the public more fully aware of some of the negative and certainly long-term consequences that your statement causes, and with the expectation that you will respond to our questions and do everything to correct the situation caused by your statement.

First, we would like to address you as the President of the SPS, political party which, as stated in its program, fights against discrimination and hate speech, for the equality of all the citizens of Serbia, for solidarity and protection of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. We do not want to get into whether your party program is just a collection of nice words on paper and whether it is binding for the leader as well, but we are very interested to know if you believe that the members of your party who are also LGBT, and as you as well know there are more than one, are also not “normal” and whether they will all now be in a worse position than others because of their sexual orientation? Are you going to exclude them now because you think homosexuality is no longer “normal” and therefore not desirable, from all party activities, will you deny them the possibility to elect and be elected within SPS, or will you even exclude them from the party itself?

Given the fact that you yourself are a parent, we are also interested to know whether in giving such a statement you might have thought about what the parents of LGBT people felt when you called their kids abnormal? Are you actually telling them that they should be ashamed of their children? You know, contrary to the dominant discourse that is intentionally created in the last few years and which claims that being LGBT is opposed to the so-called family values, you might be surprised by the fact that LGBT people, who are born as such, have a family, parents, brothers and sisters, and they already suffer enormous social pressure. Statements like yours do not contribute to reducing this stigma, to improving their safety and security, and ultimately – to the level of acceptance within the family. On the other hand, do you think with your statement you might have given additional “justification” to all those parents who refuse to accept the differences of their children – justification for rejecting them, and often for psychological and physical violence, for kicking them out of the family home and similar? We believe you have, and it is highly ironic that this country, where you are the prime minister, and its institutions still do not have any solutions for these consequences of your statement, nor do they deal with these problems.

Finally and most importantly – we address you as the Prime Minister who is chosen by a vote of the citizens of Serbia including LGBT people, and who according to the Constitution and laws must respect and advocate for non-discrimination and equality. What we would ask you first to please clarify whether your attitude as prime minister that homosexuality is not “normal” is in fact the official position of the whole Government of Serbia, and if so, when was it discussed and why was this position adopted? After your statement, will the Serbian Government maybe in the next period propose to Parliament to repeal Anti-Discrimination Law and other laws prohibiting insults and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity? Will the Serbian Government and authorities in the future even deal with improving the status of LGBT people and the decreasing of violence and discrimination against them, or it all ends on Saturday with the Pride Parade?

You, as the prime minister and politician, of course in accordance with applicable laws have the right to make decisions concerning the Pride Parade and other activities for LGBT rights, and you can politically support or not support such activities. Even the GSA who, for example, supports the parade, is not happy with the way it is organized. We can perhaps argue about the parade and other activities of the LGBT movement, but about whether homosexuality is “abnormal” – we cannot. This is simply an insult to all LGBT people in Serbia and around the world that can cause very serious consequences because it implies that some people, just because of part of their identity, i.e. one of their personal characteristics, can be declared as inferior and second-class citizens. This has special responsibility and weight when such insults and implications come from the highest state officials like you.

GSA certainly respects some of the moves that you have made when it comes to improving the position of LGBT persons and protection of their fundamental rights. However, we believe that your statement, given from the position of Serbian Prime Minister, is extremely worrying, that it has shaken the core universal values and therefore we think that it is unacceptable to remain silent and pretend that everything is all right just for the sake of maintaining the upcoming Pride Parade. That price is too high, especially considering the fact that your attitude can have unforeseeable short- and long-term consequences for LGBT people and the society as a whole, and make people turn against each other. GSA rightfully expects that the parade and other activities be held and also that they help reduce homophobia, and that politicians and government officials maintain an affirmative attitude towards the LGBT community and not insult them, that they systematically and continuously work throughout the year to reduce the violence and discrimination, increasing tolerance towards this population and other minority groups, to the benefit of all citizens of Serbia. GSA also has every right to expect that public officials who lead Serbia take a responsible and decisive position, especially when it comes to complex and difficult decisions, be it the economy, human rights, security, or any other area of importance for citizens, and GSA will not stop to require that from them.

GSA leadership will come on Saturday for the scheduled Pride Parade and like all others present we will take a walk on the planned route. We will walk not as second-class citizens or those who are not “normal”, but as proud LGBT and straight people who believe in the equality of all citizens and in the possibility to make Serbia a much more tolerant and progressive country, and as people who are working on making this happen every day, regardless of the insults and the threats we are exposed to and regardless of where they come from.

We ask that you do everything in your power to correct the negative consequences of your statement and we believe the least we can expect is that you issue an apology to the LGBT population because you have publicly characterized them as people who are not “normal”.

Gay Straight Alliance

In Belgrade,
26 September 2013