Reaction regarding the attack in front of club “Mystic”

Belgrade, 13.11.2013.

Regarding some media stories about the brutal attack on two young gay men in front of Belgrade club “Mystic“ which supposedly happened between Sunday and Monday, as well as certain information which was incorrectly reported, Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance) would like to inform the public about some of the details of this homophobic attack.

Gej strejt alijansaAttack on Đ.I. (23) and B.P. (21) actually happened in the night between Saturday and Sunday, November 9th and 10th , in front of the cafe “Mystic“ in the centre of Belgrade, one of the LGBT gathering place, and before the attack there was an argument in the cafe. Đ.I. and B.P. received in the attack severe and minor bodily injuries, such as shoulder dislocation, head contusion and lacerations. They reported the attack to the Belgrade police on the same night, and later that day they also gave GSA the details of the attack.

According to the statements which Đ.I. and B.P. gave to the police and then the Alliance, they were not harmed in an all-out brawl as some media have reported, but in a typical homophobic attack. They and their girl friends were approached that night in cafe “Mystic“ by two strange young men whom they had not seen there before. These young men were around 18 years old, with short hair and dressed in black track suits and jackets. These men started harrassing the cafe guests, asking them provocative questions about their sexual orientation in an insulting manner, and thus they reached Đ.I. and B.P. asking them the same question and getting in their face. What followed was a short verbal argument, after which, around 2 a.m., Đ.I. and B.P. decided to leave the cafe. As soon as they stepped out, they were again approached by one of the two young men, who had exited the cafe in the meantime – he stopped them and asked them if they were going to another Belgrade gay club. In that moment, the second young man ran up to them and broke a bottle over B.P.’s head. After Đ.I. tried to stop the attack on B.P. and briefly managed to push aside one of the attackers, a third young man suddenly appeared and then all three of them knocked Đ.I. onto the ground, after which they ran away.

The injured men were taken care of in Belgrade Emergency Centre, after which they gave a detailed account of the attack to a police officer from Stari Grad police station. Đ.I.’s right shoulder was dislocated in the attack, while B.P. had a head contusion and deep lacerations on his neck.

GSA is asking all relevant authorities to find the perpetrators of this hate crime, regardless of their age, to bring them to justice and punish them adequately as soon as possible.

It is evident that attackers no longer hesitate to enter even LGBT gathering places, which is why GSA again poses this question to the state authorities and all those who, unsanctioned, negatively speak in public about LGBT people: do we need to have a murder in order to start systemically solving the problem of violence against LGBT people, which has been urgent for years?

As far as GSA knows, since the introduction of hate crime into the Criminal Code as the obligatory aggravating circumstance at sentencing in December 2012, state authorities have not yet processed a single case of hate crime, even though the public can often witness through media that there are numerous cases of criminal acts motivated by the perpetrators’ hatred of different sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, religion and other personal characteristics of the victims. It is high time that the police, the prosecutor, and the courts start implement Article 54a of the Criminal Code, and that the perpetrators of such criminal acts be timely given more severe punishments.

Furthermore, GSA appeals to the police and the media to follow professional procedures and ethical standards in such cases. Namely, GSA was very negatively surprised by the writings of some media who, citing sources in the police and the Emergency Centre, published the news of the attack by giving wrong information about the incident and giving the names of the victims, without previously contacting them and getting their permission. GSA would like to remind everyone that in such cases it is vital to protect the victim’s privacy, which is why GSA itself never comes out to the public with information about such incidents without the victim’s consent, and when there is consent, the victim’s identity is still protected by using initials instead of full names.

Such irresponsible behaviour by the media jeopardizes all the efforts that GSA and certain institutions have taken in the past few years in order to improve efficiency in cases of violence against LGBT people and in order to improve the trust of LGBT people in institutions, which is of great importance for increasing the number of reported and solved cases of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This number has increased in the past two years, but it still needs work. Such media reporting as this, however, only frightens and further discourages LGBT people from reporting cases to relevant authorities and takes this process back to the point where the majority of cases of violence and discrimination stays in the so-called grey area, i.e. they never get reported and processed.

Info Centre GSA