Kidnapping because of the sexual orientation

Belgrade, 08.10.2013.

On October 2, 2013, Gay straight alliance (GSA; Alliance) was reported a case that, regardless its extensive experience when it comes to violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, GSA came across for the first time.

Gej strejt alijansaNamely, on that day the telephone number of the GSA Litigation Service was contacted by A.A. (22) from the city in Eastern Serbia, reporting that his partner M.M. (29), who lives in that town together with him, was kidnapped on Monday, September 30, 2013 by unknown perpetrators who took him in an unknown direction. A.A. said to the Alliance he suspects that behind kidnapping is M.M.’s family, which lives in a place in the Sandzak area, and that he reported the case to the police, but that they still have not found kidnapped M.M, and that he is worried for the life of his partner, which is why he decided to contact Alliance for help.

From what GSA was able to find out from the conversation with A.A., on September 30, 2013 around 8 A.M. an unknown man rang the doorbell of the house where A.A. and M.M. live, and when A.A. (who was at the moment alone in the house, while M.M. was at work) opened, the man threatened that he would “bury” him unless he cooperated, and then took him to one of the rooms. Than he tied him up, called M.M. and forced A.A. to tell him to come home urgently. When M.M. arrived, one more perpetrator entered the house and very quickly after that they took M.M. to the car that was waiting for them in front of the house, with two other perpetrators inside. One of them came back to the house and stayed with A.A. until later that afternoon, to make sure that he does not call the police, while the others drove M.M. in an unknown direction. Perpetrator who stayed with A.A., after received a phone call later that afternoon, left the house threatening A.A. not to even think of informing police or anyone else about what took place. However, A.A. reported the case immediately to the police, and after two days without having any information on what was going on, he approached Alliance which informed immediately the police Directorate in Belgrade.

Police Directorate in communication with local police in both cities has taken all the necessary measures so the missing M.M. would be found as soon as possible. M.M. was found by the local police, unharmed, on Friday, October 4, 2013, in the family house in his birthplace, and he and part of his family were taken to the police station for questioning. After informing the police about everything that happened, M.M. came to Belgrade where A.A. was waiting for him and where they talked to GSA, which will continue to monitor the case based on the documentation A.A. and M.M. provided.

According to M.M., after he was kidnapped from the house, where he lives with his partner, three kidnappers took him to the car, where two of them were holding him all the time on the back seat, with his head bent down and hands behind his backs, while the third one was driving. When after few hours they have reached the destination, close to his birthplace, kidnappers took M.M. out of the car and gave him to the certain members of his family who were waiting in another car. They transferred M.M. to this other car and took him to Montenegro in a religious building where they held him for two days. Their conviction was, according to M.M., that he was “possessed”, and that they would prove it with a certain religious ritual, and than return him back on the “right track”. However, during the religious ritual nothing indicated that M.M. was “possessed”, so they returned him to the family house in his birthplace. Police were coming to the house in the meantime, asking about M.M.’s whereabouts and about the members of his family, but they were informed that he has not been living in that house for a while now and that they do not know where he was, and that the other members of the family were on a business trip. On October 4, 2013, police came once more to check if there was any new information, and found M.M. in the house, took him to the police station together with some members of the family. Police took statements from all of them, and M.M, after saying that he does not want to stay in his birthplace, came to Belgrade. M.M. claims that his kidnapping was ordered by the members of his family who refuse to accept his homosexuality.

There are numerous details regarding the case, but GSA is not in a position to disclose them in order not to endanger the ongoing investigation. Luckily, M.M. did not suffer severe physical injuries, but is in the state of constant fear for himself and his partner, afraid that it could happen again or that next time one of them could actually lose their life.

For that reason, and for the seriousness of this case, GSA apart from demanding that perpetrators and organizers of the kidnapping be processed and appropriate punished as soon as possible, demands also from the relevant authorities to provide M.M. and A.A. with a certain kind of protection in the coming period.

Unfortunately, even though this is the first case of a kind in the GSA practice, it is not rare that families of LGBT individuals use physical and psychological violence and other “methods” to “overturn” them, because of social pressure, intolerant society that we live in, prejudices toward homosexuality, but also for religious and other reasons, even though homosexual individuals are born as such and homosexuality is not of a social character, that is, it is not acquired during the lifetime and cannot be changed. Numerous LGBT individuals approached GSA for help in the last couple of years for all kinds of problems with their families, and for what they were capable of doing because of the different sexual orientation or gender identities of their children. If it is proven that behind this case are members of the M.M.’s family, it will be one of the most drastic examples of how far one can go in refusing to accept the closest member of the family for what they are, and how it can escalate in to a serious criminal offense such as kidnapping.

GSA urges all relevant state institutions and officials to commit to systemic decreasing of homophobia as soon as possible, increasing of tolerance in the society and prevention of violence, before consequences of doing nothing bring to loss of somebody’s life.

GSA Info Center