The immediate reason for founding GSA was the attempt of police in city of Novi Sad to create e a list with personal data about LGBT people in 2005. As a response to such illegal act, LGBT activist Boris Milicevic organizes public awareness campaign of that attempt. In that campaign, over 600 LGBT persons, including friends and relatives, sent their personal data to the President of Serbia, as well as to the Prime Minister, President of the Parliament, Ministry of Police, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, as a sign of support to the LGBT population in Serbia and protection of their human rights.
Immediately after that, on November 17th, 2005, with a couple of friends Milicevic establishes Gay Straight Alliance in Belgrade. GSA was originally based on a model of “Gay Straight Alliances” network in the United States of America, a group of organizations active at universities and high schools, which gather both LGBT and heterosexual persons with the aim of social inclusion of LGBT persons in the educational environment.
Since its founding, GSA focused on activities which are primarily lobbying and advocating the rights of LGBT persons, as well as conducting research and analysis of LGBT persons’ status in Serbia and documenting the cases of violence and discrimination.
For existing and endurance in times when it was not easy to advocate the rights of LGBT people, GSA owes most to its first President Boris Milicevic who remained on that position until his resignation in mid April 2010. In December of the same year, he becomes a Governing Board member of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and continues his socio-political engagement as the first openly gay politician in Serbia, acting as a President of Consulting Body for Civil Society and Human Rights, under the Executive Board of that political party. On April 30th, 2010, the GSA Governing Board elected Lazar Pavlovic, member of GSA Executive Committee and LGBT activists, as the Acting President. Current GSA Executive Director, Mirjana Bogdanovic, also has one of the crucial roles in the development of GSA, being involved in organization on a daily basis since the beginning of 2009, creating organizational development strategy, as well as the action strategy toward institutions and political parties.
Since its very beginning, GSA gathered people with experience in socio-political activities, which probably best signifies and determines its unique course of action, being proactive in the political field. The milestone in GSA’s activities certainly marked the case of ‘Sava Centre’, when GSA becomes recognizable among wider population, which later resulted in its development and expansion.
Another remarkable step contributing to this development happened in August 2009, when GSA launched a campaign to increase the membership, positioning itself among rare NGOs in Serbia that work in this way.
From its early days to present time, GSA is financed from the projects and applies to different donors. However, many activities implemented by the GSA were unrelated to the projects, without a budget or from donations of GSA members. It is important to point out that the principle of involvement of GSA members was only voluntary (without financial compensation) by January 2010 and since that time the process of professionalizing of the work of GSA is running.