GSA Annual Report for 2014 presented in National Assembly

Belgrade, 26 March 2015

Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance) presented its Annual Report on the Status of Human Rights of LGBT Persons in Serbia for 2014 (the Report) yesterday in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.


Since 2007, GSA has been preparing and editing the annual reports covering topics related to LGBT population and the focus of the reports is on documented cases of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity that had been reported during the year to GSA, as well as on the cases before courts in Serbia that had been processed by the GSA Litigation Service.

The introductory text for GSA’s Report was written by Ms. Jadranka Joksimović, Minister without portfolio responsible for European integration in the Government of the Republic of Serbia, who, along with members of her team, was very active in 2014 in areas related to human rights of LGBT people, primarily in support of the Pride Parade. In her text, among other things, she says: “I strongly believe that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, deserve equal rights and that is something that should not be questioned.”


In front of the many guests at the presentation, MPs, representatives of various institutions, national and international organizations, diplomatic corps, eminent experts and representatives of political parties, the Report was for the first time introduced in the Parliament of Serbia including speeches of high ranking officials of government and parliament, representatives of international community present in Serbia and the NGO sector.

In the introductory part of the event attendees were addressed by Deputy Speaker of Serbian Parliament Mr. Igor Bečić, Minister of Interior in the Government of the Republic of Serbia Mr. Nebojša Stefanović, Minister without portfolio responsible for European integration in the Government of the Republic of Serbia Ms. Jadranka Joksimović, Chief of the Parliamentary Committee for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Mr. Meho Omerović, H.E. Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Belgrade Mr. Denis Keefe and Head of the political department of the EU Delegation in Serbia Mr. Luca Bianconi.
Besides the president of GSA Mr. Lazar Pavlović, executive director of GSA Ms. Mirjana Bogdanović and GSA’s attorney Mr. Aleksandar Olenik who presented the most important segments and conclusions of the Report, in the second part of the event Report and some its parts were also discussed and presented by the director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) Mr. Milan Antonijević, president of the Duga Association Mr. Aleksandar Prica and Labris coordinator Ms. Jovanka Todorović.


godisnji-izvestaj-za-2014-Mirjana-BogdanovicAnnouncing the introduction of more detailed data from the Report in the second part of the presentation, in the introductory part of the event executive director of GSA Mirjana Bogdanović said that the year 2014 in Serbia was dynamic and significant for the position of LGBT people and the status of their human rights and that there have been recorded certain improvements in this area. “First of all, successful organizing of the Pride Parade should be pointed out, but the other progresses regarding attitude of political factors and government institutions towards LGBT issue should be mentioned as well.” Also, in 2014 GSA has not recorded an increase in cases of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity that had been reported to this organization, but, on the contrary, their slight decline. But the very structure of the reported cases shows a somewhat different trend compared to the previous year; so it has been a decline in the number of cases of physical assault, attempted assault and threats of violence, while the number of cases of domestic violence (perpetrated by parents and close relatives of LGBT people) and violence in same-sex relationships are on the rise.

godisnji-izvestaj-za-2014-Igor-BecicDeputy Speaker of Serbian Parliament Igor Bečić urged all government organs, institutions, media, citizens, that each on its side take measures to social inclusion of minorities. He welcomed the successful organization of last year’s Pride Parade and said that this event should be the beginning of a more serious approach in ensuring the needs of LGBT people. Igor Bečić said that the Serbian Parliament set up a legal framework and set up an independent body which guarantees the protection of human rights and the rights of the most vulnerable part of population. Bečić commented on the adopted Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy for the Prevention of Discrimination and said: “This is a good basis to work on improving the situation of LGBT people. It should be worked on with the help of NGOs, because there are many problems that remain.” He added that the Serbian Parliament will strongly support all efforts in improving the position of LGBT population.

godisnji-izvestaj-za-2014-Jadranka-JoksimovicMinister without portfolio responsible for European integration Jadranka Joksimović pointed out that the integration of LGBT people is very important, and that Serbia’s goal is the full integration of all minority groups in society. “It is completely fine that there are traditionalists who perceive a different concept of society and social rights and freedoms. But only to the extent that does not affect the right and freedom of those who are different in some aspect,” said Joksimović and added that LGBT people and other citizens still share common problems. She said that the last year’s Pride Parade is a manifest of Serbia’s desire to really progress. “Responsible governments, and we evaluate ours as such, do not want to achieve equality through long processes, but want the conditions for applying the legislative framework in exercising the rights of LGBT people to be met as soon as possible. Not just because it’s about the values that lead to the European way, but also because we will become a more civilized society,” said Minister Joksimovć and added that Serbia has work ahead of it on changing the social climate and active struggle against prejudice against LGBT persons in which the civil society, through the support of institutions, should have a key role.

godisnji-izvestaj-za-2014-Nebojsa-StefanovicInterior Minister Nebojša Stefanović said that Serbia should not be a fertile ground for the spread of hatred towards anyone who has a different sexual orientation. “No one should feel unsafe. We care about the LGBT population and we will not allow their security to be at risk. Serbia must not be a fertile ground for the spread of hatred towards anyone who has a different sexual orientation, religion or nationality,” stressed the Minister Stefanović and said that according to the data of Ministry of Interior in Serbia in 2014, there has been seven reported physical and 12 verbal attacks against members of the LGBT community and the police intervened and forwarded ten reports to the relevant prosecutor’s office, while 11 persons were prosecuted. According to him, in the same period there were 66 threats to LGBT population via social networks. “The police intervened to 25 people, we have taken measures of our responsibilities and we filed 45 criminal charges,” Stefanović said, adding that the Ministry of Interior in early February last year enacted an action plan for improving the work and cooperation between the police and the LGBT community that provides fight against hooliganism and extremism, liaison officers and realization of the projects with the objective of respect for diversity.

godisnji-izvestaj-za-2014-Denis-KifBritish Ambassador in Belgrade Denis Keefe commended Serbia for making a big step forward with the Pride Parade 2014, which was an important political signal that the government respects the laws and international conventions on human rights; at the same time expressing hope that the reform efforts of the Government of Serbia will contribute to improving the rights and freedoms of all citizens of Serbia. He estimated that the Annual Report warns that the problem of LGBT people should be engaged also in a systematic and not only in a political way, and that the civil sector must actively fight against prejudice. “Cases of violence are very worrying, even when they are in slight decline. Violence cannot be tolerated at any cost. Vital is the timely response of the police and the judiciary. Any form of violence against LGBT people must be strongly condemned and effectively sanctioned and cases of hate crimes should be prevented at an early stage which requires additional training of teachers, doctors and social workers,” concluded Ambassador Keefe, adding that in the UK once were a lot of problems in terms of the position of LGBT people.

godisnji-izvestaj-za-2014-Meho-OmerovicChief of the Parliamentary Committee for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Meho Omerović said that LGBT people are still in a very difficult position and pointed out that the gay population, besides facing the same problems as all the other citizens, is facing violations of the right to security. “Therefore it is very important that their position is discussed about as much as possible at various levels. Including the one that is the highest – where we are today – the National Assembly.” Omerović stressed that special attention should be given to the prosecution of cases of discrimination and hate speech that was carried out against LGBT persons. “In this way we would encourage victims of discrimination to approach the relevant institutions without fear and mistrust if they suffer discrimination.” He also said that there is a proposal of parliamentary Declaration against violence, hate speech and hate crime being made at the moment.

godisnji-izvestaj-za-2014-Luka-BjankoniHead of the political department of the EU Delegation in Serbia Luca Bianconi stated that gender identity and sexual orientation worldwide are excuses for endangering the rights and freedoms of LGBT persons and stressed that LGBT people should be respected and not tolerated. He said that the Report shows that LGBT people still belong to the group of most vulnerable citizens. “The visible political support for LGBT people is of great importance. Reports say that the greatest discrimination lies in employment domain. Trans people are the most vulnerable and in the most difficult situation.” Bianconi also mentioned the textbooks used in schools in which there are still texts that contribute to the spread of discrimination and homophobia, and expressed hope that the Ministry of Education will change content in question in accordance with the recommendations of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality. As a good example, he mentioned the organization of the music festival “Zone of Tolerance” and cooperation of city of Zaječar and GSA on it. Also, Bianconi added that discrimination against LGBT people still exists in some of the EU Member States, especially when it comes to education, health and employment.

godisnji-izvestaj-za-2014-Lazar-PavlovicAddressing the media after the presentation of the Report president of the GSA Lazar Pavlović repeated that during 2014 there was not spotted increase of cases of violence and discrimination against LGBT people compared to the previous 2013, and that the number of cases reported to the police has increased – which is a good sign but also that GSA is working on increasing that number even more in order to minimize the number of unresolved cases. “State institutions have done a good job, but all of us still have more work to do with citizens on the destruction of prejudice, stereotypes – a lot of direct communication should be done. We have noted the progress in media, but there still occurs occasional sensational reporting as well. In terms of living conditions LGBT people share the fate of all other categories of the population, however, the specifics are related to the violence that LGBT people suffer because of their identity”, said Pavlović.


In preparation of the Report for 2014, organizations other than GSA participated as well, and contributions to the Report on their work and activities in the previous year were submitted to the Alliance by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defense, Office for Human and Minority Rights of the Government of Serbia, Team for negotiations on the accession of the Republic of Serbia to the EU and the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of Serbian Government. In cooperation with the police, there has been analyzed the status of a number of cases of violence and threats that are reported to GSA, i.e. the current progress of those cases.

Gay Straight Alliance would like to thank the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, its president and vice-presidents for making it possible to hold the presentation of the Report in the building of Parliament. GSA would also like to thank all the speakers on the presentation of the Report, the guests and participants, as well as the media who have followed and reported on this event.

Info center GSA

Sources: GSA, Agencije, Danas, E-novine, Blic, Alo, Slobodna Evropa, N1

You can see or download Summary of GSA Annual Report on the Status of Human Rights of LGBT Persons in Serbia for 2014 HERE.

Video of the GSA Annual Report presentation you can see at GSA Youtube channel.