Gay Straight Alliance (GSA; Alliance) is today one of the non-governmental organisations with the most members in Serbia. Members include both LGBT and straight people, people of different political affiliations, different national and religious backgrounds, different professions, ages, social status and personal interests… And we are all gathered around the same goal – equal rights for everyone and reduction of violence and discrimination.
Over the past several years GSA has successfully built its credibility and recognisability. It brought a new approach to how the non-governmental sector functioned in Serbia at that time, it influenced the creation of a number of policies and the passing of several laws, it made a lot of allies in the fight for the protection and improvement of human rights of LGBT people, it achieved significant results in various activities… All of this was made possible due to many of our members, who, with their selfless engagement, knowledge and enthusiasm, worked tirelessly and seriously, often in very difficult conditions, and never stopped believing in GSA.
We are very proud of all of them, their professionalism and great atmosphere, optimism and respect which exists in the Alliance regardless of our mutual differences. We firmly believe that many of them are not only future leaders of GSA, but also future leaders in various other areas: politics, economics, culture, media… That is why we would like, a couple times a month, to present on this site, in the column “We are GSA!”, some of GSA’s members through their short biographies as well as interviews with them on various topics.
The editor of the column “We are GSA!” is Nevena Janković with the help of GSA’s PR team. Opinions stated in this column are not necessarily shared by the Alliance as an organisation.
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Miroslav Janković was born in Belgrade in 1975. He is a member of GSA since 2008 and a member of GSA Governing Board since 2010.
He is employed at OSCE Mission to Serbia (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) since 2007, where he works as a legal advisor to the Media Department. Prior to that he worked in the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, first as a researcher and then as a coordinator of program for protection of human rights.
So far he has published six publications on various topics, from the application of transitional laws to the political violence in Serbia and the status of media rights and freedoms. In March 2007 he became a laureate of the award „10 best young lawyers of Serbia“. Professionally he is oriented towards the field of human rights in both the theoretical and practical contexts. In the past few years he has mostly dealt with media laws with a special focus on the freedom of Internet, selfregulation of offline and online media, as well as documenting and monitoring cases of violations of media rights and freedoms.
Miroslav has been involved in the creation of Annual Reports on the Status of Human Rights of LGBT People in Serbia, which is one of the Alliance’s main activities, right from the start. It is from him that we learned what reports should look like, which standards they need to fulfill in order to be credible, how important it is to document cases of violence and discrimination… He has been with GSA the whole time, unconditionally, in good and bad times and in the times of upheaval. He is certainly one of the people to whom we owe an enormous thanks for everything that the Alliance is today.
Miroslav is straight person, he is married to Ivana and they have a four-month-old son Lav.
Angelina Žeželj was born in 1987 in Belgrade. She is a student of the Faculty of Security Studies and Information Technology School. As military police she worked for the Serbian Army from 2011 until recently. She has established the “Rainbow” brand of gay parties and she owns the cafe “MyWay” – a well-known Belgrade hangout for LGBT people and their friends.
She is a member of GSA since 2009. She does not hide the fact that she is a lesbian and she does not accept any kind of ghetto. She believes that tolerance towards LGBT people can be increased only through the cooperation of LGBT and straight people.
In October 2011 with her friends she suffered a brutal attack and attempted murder in the centre of Belgrade because she was wearing a shirt with the symbol of the Pride Parade. Even though she received severe injuries while she was defending herself – she did not falter. She is still a great fighter and full of positive energy. Her bravery and determination are perhaps best described by the words from a written message that Angelina sent to participants of the protest “It’s Enough!“ organized by GSA and Angelina’s friends in front of the Serbian Government a few days after she was attacked. On that occasion she said, among other things: “…people, life is precious! Don’t let anyone trample you, don’t hide within your ‘four walls’ and don’t be afraid of freedom! I wish to live and I wish for my life to continue. I don’t want to go anywhere, this is my city which I love…”
We are GSA! Milan Pantelić: I don’t make compromises when it comes to being open about my sexual orientation
Milan Pantelić was born in 1983 in Belgrade. He graduated from law school and gained a master’s degree in democracy and human rights within European integrations. He was one of the first people in Serbia to deal with the status of LGBT people in the legal system through his master’s thesis “Sexual minorities in the process of European integrations – legal perspective“. In his thesis he used GSA reports, which is how we met him. Afterwards he became a member and an activist in the Alliance, and has recently been made a member of the Council for Gender Equality of the Serbian Government, representing our organisation. He belongs to the new generation of GSA leaders, and with his engagement and with the extensive knowledge he possesses in this area, he wishes to contribute to the improvement of human rights of LGBT people and all other Serbian citizens. Even though he feels that the state of human rights has improved in the last decade, he believes there is still a lot of work ahead for everyone. He is a big advocate for the implementation of the United Nations’ (UN) concept of social development based on human rights, whose primary goals – economic growth and development of the individual, can be accomplished only in the process which is participatory, inclusive and free from discrimination.
Although he is employed and currently busy preparing for his bar exam, he does not neglect his engagement in GSA, where he is known as hard-working, persistent and honest. He is also honest about his sexual orientation, he is gay and feels that it is important to say that and that it is only a part of his identity. He is also the first out-LGBT person in Serbia who has entered the so-called state structures, through the Council for Gender Equality.