Jadranka Joksimović winner of the “Rainbow” Award

Belgrade, 15 May 2015

The winner of this year’s ”Rainbow” Award is Jadranka Joksimović, Minister without portfolio responsible for European integration in the Serbian Government.

nagrada-duga-2014-2015-jadranka-joksimovicThe award ceremony, which was held for the third time in the Belgrade City Hall, was attended by: the Mayor of Belgrade Siniša Mali; Minister and winner of this year’s award Jadranka Joksimović; Minister of Culture Ivan Tasovac; the US Ambassador in Belgrade Michael Kirby; Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia Michael Davenport; Head of Negotiating Team for Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the EU and last year’s winner of the Rainbow Award Tanja Miščević; President of the Parliamentary Committee for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Meho Omerović; State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture Saša Mirković; State Secretary in the Ministry of Labor Laslo Čikoš; Ombudsman Deputy Gordana Stevanović; MP and former President of the National Assembly Slavica Đukić Dejanović; MP and Vicepresident of the Social-democratic Party Marko Đurišić; the representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Youth and Sport, Office for Human and Minority Rights, as well as the representatives of many other institutions, academic community, national and international organizations, diplomatic corps and media.

The “Rainbow” Award for 2014/15 was handed to Minister Joksimović by the Head of Negotiating Team for Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the EU Tanja Miščević, who won it last year, with the explanation that in the past year, Minister Joksimović was one of the people who unequivocally promoted LGBT rights and their improvement. Miščević added that the award represents a great commitment, honor and pleasure, because it shows continuity in the development of human rights, and that the process of European integrations involves more than one person.

Minister Jadranka Joksimović after receiving the award said that the LGBT population has a partner and a supporter in her, and that diversity is something that must always be respected. Noting that human rights are part of the European legislation, she emphasized that Serbia is not working on the promotion of human rights for the sake of Europe but for ourselves and for what we as a society should always support, such as tolerance and respect for diversity.
“The door of my cabinet will always be open to questions, suggestions and problems of each minority group,” said Joksimović and told members of the LGBT community that no one has the right to endanger them because of their sexual orientation.
She noted that LGBT organizations demonstrated a responsible approach to organizing the Pride Parade and added that she hopes that this year we will not need such great security forces on the streets.
“From my side you have a partner,” said Joksimović, adding that she was pleased to receive the award from Tanja Miščević, because it shows that “we learn from each other and recognize what is good.”

In his address Mayor Siniša Mali emphasized that hosting this event ought to be understood as signifying the support of the City of Belgrade to the representatives of the LGBT population in Belgrade and Serbia.
“Our commitment and our goal is to ensure that all people have equal rights, equal opportunities and that no one is part of the ‘invisible minority’. What I personally want is for Belgrade to be a cosmopolitan and open city, in which people will not offend because they are of another religion, nationality or sexual orientation. Therefore I will keep working to make sure everyone in our city can at all times be free to say what they think. The struggle to achieve this goal involves the struggle to change the minds of people who need to understand and accept diversity. I believe that people will change their minds and realize that diversity is not a defect. I will fight for a city in which everyone can express their opinion on any subject. Because this is a city of diversity and all are welcome into it,” the Mayor said, adding that the City of Belgrade will host this ceremony again next year.

US Ambassador in Belgrade Michael Kirby, who is also an honorary member of GSA, said that the fact that this award is being given for the third time in Belgrade City Hall is an indicator of how much things have changed for the better in Serbia.
“I look forward to what the Mayor has announced that Belgrade will become an open and cosmopolitan city and I think that we are moving in that direction,” said Kirby.
He added that there should be no hatred toward other groups of people. Noting that recently we marked 70 years since the victory in World War II, Kirby said that in this war, a large number of Serbs were persecuted and killed only because they were Serbs.
“We must not direct hatred against people just because they are different. Last year the Parade was held almost without incident, people walked safely, and Belgrade has shown a cosmopolitan spirit,” said Ambassador Kirby.

Head of EU Delegation to Serbia Michael Davenport said that the fact that this event is held in the Belgrade City Hall sends a strong message of tolerance and diversity. He praised the initiative to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by awarding the “Rainbow” Award and expressed his satisfaction that Serbia joins many other countries in marking that day. Noting that the report of the independent bodies shows that LGBT groups in Serbia are among the most vulnerable, subject to discrimination and intolerance, and that the social attitude towards them is negative, Davenport said that there have also been positive steps made, such as the adoption of the Strategy of prevention and protection from discrimination, and organizing the Pride Parade.
“I hope that this year the authorities will again clearly show that every citizen can enjoy the rights guaranteed by law,” said Davenport, and pointed out that each person has the right to choose their way, and that state institutions must ensure that everybody can enjoy their rights.

President of Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Lazar Pavlović said that the award, which is awarded for the third time, has gained credibility, and that GSA wish to praise the successes and the progress achieved in the year for which the award is given. He noted that this year there were 33 nominations for the “Rainbow”, which is twice more than last year.

The shortlist for this year’s “Rainbow” Award, in addition to Minister Joksimović, included: Association Rainbow from Šabac, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, transgender Major of the Serbian Armed Forces, retired, Helena (M.V.), and journalist of the weekly newspapers “Vreme” Tamara Skrozza.

Reasoning behind the decision for 2014/15 “Rainbow” Award

“Minister Jadranka Joksimović has over the past year distinguished herself as one of the figures in political and public life in Serbia who clearly and unequivocally advocate for the recognition of LGBT rights. This fact, as well as her overall engagement in this area, was born in mind by three LGBT rights organizations – Pride Parade Belgrade, Labris and Gay Straight Alliance – who individually nominated her for this year’s “Rainbow” Award.

The cabinet of the Minister without portfolio responsible for European integration took an active role in areas related to human rights of LGBT people, above all in the process of organizing the Pride Parade. The Minister and her associates have contributed to better coordination between ministries and other state bodies in the process of preparing and creating the conditions for the Pride Parade to be held in 2014, with intensive communication with the organizers of this event. Minister Jadranka Joksimović, along with representatives of other institutions, participated in the Pride Parade and thus supported the LGBT community and sent a clear political message that all minority groups must have all the constitutional and legal rights.

The Minister and her Cabinet have established good communication and strategic cooperation with the LGBT movement in Serbia and they deal with LGBT rights in continuity in various fields. She was one of the speakers at the presentation of the Annual Report GSA on the human rights of LGBT persons in Serbia in 2014, and also wrote the introduction to this report in which she emphasized that LGBT rights are part of the contemporary identity of Serbia and emphasized the political will of the Government of the Republic of Serbia to remain committed to the affirmation of human and minority rights.

In the process of European integration of Serbia, for which she is responsible in the Government, Minister Joksimović treats LGBT rights as an important area and sees them in the corpus of fundamental human rights. With this attitude, as well as with frequent positive media statements, Joksimović affirms the culture of human rights, which contributes to reducing pressure and tension towards the LGBT community.

Minister Jadranka Joksimović, along with ministers and deputy ministers from Montenegro, Croatia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a signatory of the regional “Joint Statement on ending violence and hate crimes against LGBT people.” The statement was signed after the third informal ministerial meeting of the Forum IDAHO, which took place a few days ago and gathered more than 230 representatives from 22 EU countries and regions, and at which Minister Joksimović was also one of the speakers.

Based on previous experience and following the work of Minister Jadranka Joksimović, we strongly believe that the LGBT community has found in her a reliable partner for cooperation and an ally in the struggle for the improvement of their rights.”

“Rainbow” Award was established by Gay Straight Alliance. Since 2013 it is awarded every year in honour of May 17 – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) for contributions to the fight against homophobia and transphobia and to protection and improvement of human rights of LGBT people in Serbia in the past year.

The first “Rainbow” Award for 2012/13 was awarded to the Department for working with the community of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia , while the last year’s “Rainbow” Award went to Tanja Miščević, Chief of the Negotiating Team for Serbian EU Accession.

The award is given through a public nomination process and decided upon by an independent jury chosen every year from the ranks of eminent individuals from various areas, the winner of the previous year’s award, as well as activists from other LGBT rights organisations.
While this year’s shortlist for the award was chosen unanimously, the choice of the winner, as it was said at the awards ceremony, was followed by lengthy discussions of at least several days and the jury couldn’t decide between two nominees and there was also a third option. Although broad discussion followed the work of the jury in the two previous years as well, this year unfortunately, with sincere regret but also a complete understanding of the reasons and respect for their decision by GSA, several members stepped out of the jury: Jovan Gligorijevic, Boris Trivian, Ivana Konstantinović and Nikola Radisic. Two jury members resigned before the final decision on the winner and the other two after that, which did not compromise the work of the jury, as the majority participated in the decision and it was made in a legitimate manner. GSA would like to emphasise that it respects the participation of all the members of the jury in this process in this and in the previous years, and that GSA respects each of them, which is indeed evident in this announcement.
In the entire process of making this decision, like in the previous two years, GSA as the founder of the award acted completely transparently, fairly and honestly. GSA rejects any different and subsequent interpretations, as well as contesting the award, as totally unfounded and unfair. Also, GSA understands the discontent of a part of the jury, and the fact that the interested public can never fully agree on the winners: this followed the “Rainbow” Award in previous years as well, just like any other award. However, the Alliance, as the founder of the “Rainbow” and as the organisation which bears full responsibility for this award, stands unreservedly behind all winners, shortlisted nominations, all received nominations, decisions and deliberations of the jury – this year and in the previous years – because the fact of the matter is that all these decisions were very good and completely legitimate. In addition, although once again GSA wishes to express its regret at the decision of a part of the jury to step out, on the other hand GSA is glad that the choice for the winner of the “Rainbow” Award is not being carried out in narrow and closed circles, as is the case with some other prizes, but that it involves people outside of activist circles and that it creates a serious and broader conversation with all the consequences that stem from this, which GSA accepts. This model of awarding the “Rainbow” will not be changed in the future.
If the need arises, GSA will subsequently issue a more detailed statement.

Sources: Agencies, Info Center GSA
Photo: GSA; Telegraf; Hello! magazin (Boško Karanović)
Video: Tanjug