Gay Serbia News & Reports 2011

Also see: Belgrade Gay Guide

1 Metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church Ordered to Apologise 3/11

2 Serbian official: Bishop must apologize to gays 3/11

3 Serbia sends anti-Gay neo-Nazis to prison 4/11

4 Report exploring the link between MSM, homophobia and HIV/AIDS 4/11

5 ‘Being gay in Serbia is tough’ 6/11

5a ILGA-Europe urges Serbian authorities… 8/11

6 Belgrade Pride Parade Committee: Capable? 9/11

6a Shadow report on the Violations of the Rights of LGBT in Serbia 9/11

7 Serb authorities prohibit gay pride parade 10/11

8 Six suspected anti-gay extremists arrested in Belgrade 10/11

9 LGBT community holds protest in Belgrade 10/11

10 Nigerian legal attack on LGBT worsens 11/11

March 5, 2011 – UK Gay News

Metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church Ordered to Apologise
to Gays for Homophobic Gay Pride Rant – Commissioner for Equality: Apologise within 30 day, or face court hearing

Belgrade – The Metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church could face a court hearing over his homophobic outburst following Gay Pride in Belgrade last October. The Serbian Commissioner for Equality, Nevena Petrušic, has ordered Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic to publicly apologise to the participants of Gay Pride within 30 days. If he fails to do this, he is liable to be prosecuted, charged with violation of anti-discrimination law. The Commission for Equality had mounted an investigation following several complaints of hate speech.

Ms. Petrušic told broadcaster B92 News today that she has also urged the Metropolitan to meet with representatives of the gay community “who are fighting for the rights of sexual minorities to learn about the problems they face”. And she added that the outburst undoubtedly violated Serbian anti-discrimination law. “At the same time, the Metropolitan is to refrain in future from making statements that incite discrimination, hatred or violence,” she said.

In the speech, given the day after Belgrade Pride, hard-line Metropolitan Radovic likened the Gay Pride to “stench and poison littering capital Belgrade”, saying it was “scarier than uranium”. He also said that the stench of Sodom that plagues “this modern civilization was raised to the pedestal of the deity”. And then he went on to say that it was the participants in the gay march who caused the violence – “and the children are called hooligans”.

One group that complained to the Commissioner for Equality said it was happy with the decision that the . Metropolitan has violated the law – and they expect it be implemented. “I am pleased that the Commission gave its recommendations, but given that everyone knows Amfilohije’s radical position, I’m afraid he will not comply with this recommendation,” Jovanka Todorovic, spokesperson for lesbian human rights group Labris told B92 News.

March 11, 2011 – 365Gay

Serbian official: Bishop must apologize to gays

by The Associated Press
(Belgrade, Serbia) A Serbian human rights official said Saturday a hardline Orthodox Church bishop must publicly apologize for the anti-gay remarks he made after last year’s pride march that erupted in violence. Bishop Amfilohije violated Serbia’s anti-discrimination laws when he criticized gays in a speech, Commissioner for Equality Nevena Petrusic said.
Petrusic also urged Amfilohije to meet with the gay activists and advised that he should “refrain from making statements that incite discrimination, hatred or violence.”

There was no immediate comment from Amfilohije or the church. The bishop could face legal action if he does not apologize. Amfilohije is well-known for his nationalism and anti-Western positions, including opposition to liberal reforms which are part of Serbia’s efforts to join the EU. In his speech, Amfilohije called gays “stench and poison littering capital Belgrade” and blamed them for the clashes that broke out when extremists attacked police securing the Oct. 10 pride event, Serbia’s first in years.

More than 100 people were injured and dozens detained during the clashes. The event was widely seen as a test for Serbian authorities, who have pledged to protect human rights. The Balkan country has seen a rise in right-wing extremism in the past few years, with hardline groups threatening liberals and foreigners.

April 22, 2011 – Seattle Gay News

Serbia sends anti-Gay neo-Nazis to prison

by Mike Andrew – SGN Staff Writer
Fourteen leaders of the Serbian neo-Nazi organization Obraz were sentenced to prison terms by Serbia’s Higher Court in Belgrade on April 20. All had been charged in connection with riots they instigated at Belgrade’s 2010 Pride Parade. Obraz leader Mladen Obradovic was sentenced to two years in prison for organizing the riots.
His wife Jelena was sentenced to a year, and Obraz members Krsta Milovanovic and Damir Grbic to a year and a half in prison.

The remaining 13 defendants received sentences ranging from eight months to a year and a half. The sentences handed down were reportedly minimum sentences. Maximum jail time for the acts they committed is 12 years. Obradovic and the other 13 defendants were accused of organizing a group which deliberately caused riots at the Belgrade Pride Parade last year. More than 5,000 riot police were deployed by the Serbian government to separate the Pride marchers from the neo-Nazi group.

Neo-Nazis hurled Molotov cocktails, bottles, and bricks. Police retaliated with tear gas to disperse attackers. The Serbian government later said that 124 police officers and 17 rioters were injured in the fighting. Afterward, 249 people were detained by the police, including 49 minors, with 100 remanded in custody for violent behavior and looting. At the trial, prosecutors said that the defense claim that the accused were motivated by their devotion to the Serbian Orthodox Church was unacceptable, and that their actions amounted to anti-Gay discrimination and rioting.

The prosecution said in its closing argument that the Obraz slogan, ‘We will fight with all means,’ is not in the spirit of Orthodox Christianity. The defense claimed that the defendants had been on their way to pray, not to riot. Defense lawyers accused Serbian authorities of causing the riots and claimed that the trial represented political persecution of their clients. The Serbian Republic Public Prosecutor filed a motion to ban the extreme-right organization Obraz two years ago, claiming that its members were inciting hatred and discrimination.

The Constitutional Court still has not ruled on it. Serbia has applied for membership in the European Union, and its government is eager to show that it will comply with the European Convention on Human Rights, which all EU members must uphold.

29 Apr, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

Report exploring the link between MSM, homophobia and HIV/AIDS in countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia

Executive Summary
1. Homophobia in South-eastern Europe – Prevalence, Consequences, and Prevention 9
1.1. Introduction 9
1.2. Meaning and Impact of Homophobia 9
1.3. A Snapshot of Homophobia in the Region 10
1.4. Local Responses to Homophobia 11
1.5. Recommendations for Homophobia Prevention 13
1.5.1.Young People and Schools 13
1.5.2. Law Enforcement and Homophobia 13
1.5.3. Social Marketing and the Media 14
1.5.4. Internalized Homophobia 14
1.6. Conclusion 15

2. MSM- men having sex with men 17
2.1. Introduction 17
2.2. The Term 18
2.3. “MSM” in the Region, Introduction 18
2.4. Silent men 19
2.5. What’s Sex Got to Do with It? 20
2.6. Continued: MSM in the Region 20
2.7. Instead of Conclusion 21

3. Legal Status of Sexual and Gender Minorities in South-eastern Europe 23
3.1. Introduction 23
3.2. Human Rights Standards 23
3.2.1. Human rights definition 23
3.2.2. Violations of human rights 23
3.2.3. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 24
3.2.4. First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR 26
3.2.5. Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR 26
3.2.7. Protocol 12 to the ECHR 26
3.2.8. The European Charter on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 27
3.2.9. The European documents relevant for sexual and gender minorities 27
3.2.10. The European Parliament Resolution A3-0028/94 27
3.2.11. The European Parliament Resolution A5-0050/00 27
3.2.12. The Council Directive 2000/78/EC 27
3.2.13. The European Parliament Resolution on Homophobia in Europe 28
3.2.14. The Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec (2010) 28
3.3. Right to life, safety and protection from violence 28
3.3.1. Legal background in the region 28
3.3.2. Violence against sexual and gender minorities 29
3.3.3. Availability of effective remedies 30
3.3.4. Forced psychiatric treatment 31
3.3.5. Conclusions and recommendations 32
3.4. Right to expression and public assembly 33
3.4.1. Practice of the European Court on Human Rights 33
3.4.2. Zagreb Pride 34
3.4.3. Belgrade Pride 34
3.4.4. Queer festival Sarajevo 35
4.4.5. Conclusions and recommendations 35
3.5. Right to be protected from discrimination 36
3.5.2. Practice of the European Court on Human Rights 36
3.5.3. National anti-discrimination legislations 36
3.5.4. Conclusions and recommendations 39
3.6. Right to family life 40
3.6.1. European context 40
3.6.2. Situation in the region 41
3.6.3. Conclusions and recommendations 42
3.7. Summary of recommendations 42

More….View this article’s attachment here

7 June 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

‘Being gay in Serbia is tough’

A Serbian exchange student in the US talks about life as a gay teen in Serbia. One of the -I’m From Driftwood( series of stories about individual LGBT lives in the US.

View video

29 August 2011 – LGBT Europe

ILGA-Europe urges Serbian authorities to ensure the necessary protection and support to Belgrade Pride 2011

The organisers of Belgrade Pride 2011 have announced today that the Pride Parade will take place on the 2 October. In 2010, Belgrade Pride was held with success which partly was due to adequate police protection and support from the Serbian authorities. This year prominent politicians have questioned whether the police should protect the pride march – these statements will endanger the safety of the event. ILGA-Europe welcomes the support of Belgrade Pride expressed by the Serbian President Boris Tadic in June 2011. However, ILGA-Europe is concerned about the recent statements by Interior Minister Ivica Dacic and other prominent politicians saying that the Pride event should not take place because of the security risks.

Before 2010 Belgrade Pride had a history of violence and lack of support from police and authorities. In 2001 the pride event ended in heavy violence. Only in 2009 the LGBTI community in Serbia attempted to organise another pride event. The planned pride event in 2009 was cancelled as the authorities could not promise to protect the participants. In 2010, for the first time ever, a successful pride event took place with heavy police protection. However, counter demonstrations were organised by around 6000 hooligans and members of right wing organisations. They clashed with the police, injured about 150 policemen and caused several thousands of euros damage.

ILGA-Europe is urging the Serbian authorities and police to be consistent in their commitment to human rights and provide the necessary protection and support to Belgrade Pride 2011. Linda Freimane, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board said: “I was in Belgrade in 2010, and was happy to acknowledge that the Serbian police did their job very well and protected the participants from the violent counter demonstrators. I can only hope that the late statements from Serbian politicians do not change this, so participants can feel secure when they are marching on 2 October.”

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, continues: “The Serbian authorities should prove that they are genuinely committed to human rights of LGBTI people. They can do this by making sure that Belgrade Pride 2011 is fully protected and have their support.”

September 1, 2011 – UK GayNews

Belgrade Gay Pride Parade Committee: Capable to Deliver, or Not

by Vlatko Salaj, Coordinator of LGBT Vojvodina
Regarding all the Belgrade Pride Parade sensationalism yet again this year, I cannot hope not to show my full reservation, just like the last time.
Unfortunately, years are passing by, but nothing is changed, and the whole LGBT thing in Serbia just seems like a trendy way to make a quick buck, not only for activists coming from LGBT flavour, but also many straight men and women, selling their “liberal” viewpoint for some nice foreign funds, while “representing” our gay community.

What is even more disturbing is that there are some conflicts of interest present also, so, while they work on Pride, they make governmental policies, which are not so gay friendly. Just insane and lovely. Like Serbia. Such a negative attitude coming from a human right activist, especially a member of an ethnic minority and a gay, does sound strange, I am absolutely aware of that. Critique of one’s own movement usually doesn’t end well for the critic in question, but I’ve been there and done that, so I don’t care much. What I care more about are the facts and the lameness of the whole thing.

In short, if one really takes some time to research the entire process and scratch a bit deeper than skin-deep approach international NGOs usually take, one could, at least to a part, grasp my reluctance to the whole Belgrade Pride idea, at least the way it is done. I will try to be short and summarize my thoughts in a few points. Please, take notice that I am in a full support for various human rights, and I long for time when true equality will finally come. So, while my colleagues, who may even be receiving your funds as we speak, will call me a freak, lunatic or whatever they can think of hoping to silence me, my words speak for themselves.

In general, my reservations are highly technical in nature. So, I am not trying to deny the parade doctrine. I was involved into staging a Pride Day in Novi Sad in 2007, so I do believe a pride parade has its place in our fight.

That being said, these words should be read simply as a base helping to find an answer to the situation one could summarize into one simple question:

“Why, after 15 years of internationally boosted funding of LGBT rights in Serbia, there have been no change in prevailing social attitudes towards LGBT population, which is still a ghettoized scape-goat, either when hiding in their rooms, behind an armoured strong-wall while taking a short street-walk, or during a political fight and European promises?”

My answer: wrong leadership – and addressed in 15 points

September 21, 2011 – The Green Political Foundation

Shadow report on the Violations of the Rights of LGBT in Serbia

In March of 2009, the Serbian National Assembly narrowly passed the Anti-Discrimination Law despite immense opposition from religious leaders and right-wing political parties. The law bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, and other characteristics, and was part of broader reforms in Serbia to meet standards for admission to the European Union. In addition to the Anti-Discrimination Law, Article 21 of the Serbian Constitution states that “everyone shall have the right to equal legal protection, without discrimination,” and Article 387 of the Serbian Criminal Code provides a framework for prosecuting those who threaten organizations and individuals due to their commitment to the “equality of people.” With regard to international law, Serbia is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), both of which prohibit discrimination under the law.

While the Anti-Discrimination Law demonstrates a positive step forward for LGBT rights in Serbia, the government has been slow to implement and apply the law. For example, following the cancellation of the 2009 Pride Parade due to threats of violence, leaders of right-wing organizations “1389” and Obraz were charged under Article 387 of the Criminal Code but were not charged under the Anti-Discrimination Law. In addition, Article 62 of the 2006 Serbian Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a women, whereas the 2000 Constitution does not mention gender in Article 29, its marriage provision. This shift demonstrates backsliding with regard to marriage equality. Furthermore, national law does not address transsexual and transgender individuals, demonstrating an unwillingness on the part of the government to acknowledge their existence and rights.

Beyond law and policies, pervasive homophobia in Serbian society leads to disproportionate violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals. Right-wing groups, religious organizations, and the media perpetuate hostility against the LGBT community through discriminatory and hateful public speech. Serbia is bound by its commitments to the ICCPR and the ECHR, and must honor these commitments by taking affirmative steps to protect the rights of LGBT individuals in law and in practice. In particular, the government should use the Anti-Discrimination Law to prosecute discrimination, should take steps to acknowledge and protect transsexual individuals, and should develop and promote education programs to combat pervasive discriminatory attitudes from the bottom up.

The report has been mainly composed by Marija Savic / Labris (until 2011).Download (PDF)

Shadow report on the Violations of the Rights of LGBT in Serbia

Editor U.N. Human Rights Committee
Place of publication Regional Center for Minorities International Human Rights Clinic – Harvard Law School Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights
Date of publication 21, 2011
Pages 17

October 1, 2011 – CNN

Serb authorities prohibit gay pride parade

by the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) – Authorities have stopped a gay pride parade scheduled for Sunday in Belgrade, according to Serbian police. Violence has plagued the parade in years past, at times precipitating its prohibition or requiring heavy police protection. The interior ministry banned Sunday’s Belgrade Pride Parade, citing possible "obstruction of public transport, endangering health, public moral or safety of individuals and properties," in a statement from the Belgrade Police Department.
Beograd parada ponosa, the parade’s organizer, posted the statement on its website without commentary. The organizers may issue a complaint against the decision, according to the statement dated September 30.

In October 2010 petrol bombs and rocks flew at the parade, after authorities allowed it to go forward with express public backing from the interior ministry. A police presence of 5,000 strong that year — which guided the way for 1,000 marchers — took the brunt of the attacks, which injured 40 officers, according to the interior ministry. Sixty people were arrested in the wake of the anti-gay violence. In 2009 authorities disallowed the parade after a wave of anti-gay graffiti, news reports at the time said. A gay pride march in 2001 — thought to be the country’s first — was attacked, resulting in some injuries.

3 October 2011 – PinkNews

Six suspected anti-gay extremists arrested in Belgrade

by Jessica Geen
Serbian police have arrested six suspected anti-gay extremists in connection with attempts to disrupt a Pride march. The march, which was to be held yesterday in Belgrade, was cancelled by police over fears of mass violence. Some of those arrested were found with ski masks and baseball bats.
Riot police were deployed across Belgrade and other cities over the weekend to quell any trouble.

A Pride march was held last year in Belgrade for the first time in ten years but ended in violence as 20,000 people held a counter protest. This year, reports claimed that extremists were planning to use violence and start fires to disrupt the gay rights march. Pride organisers were unwilling to cancel the event and accused authorities of giving in to threats. But human rights minister Milan Markovic told B92 that many people could have been killed.

He said: “It’s far from the truth that the state has capitulated and that hooligans are more powerful than the state, that’s complete nonsense.” Instead of holding a march, gay rights campaigners held an indoor press conference.

19 October 2011 – B92

LGBT community holds protest in Belgrade

by B92, Tanjug
Belgrade – The Gay-Straight Alliance held a protest dubbed “That’s enough” at noon in front of the Serbian government headquarters on Wednesday. Strong police forces were securing the rally which was peaceful. Police arrested tree young men who were wearing skinhead symbols and were standing across the street. The Gay-Straight Alliance organized the protest after a young woman wearing a T-shirt with LGBT symbols was attacked and stabbed by a minor on Saturday. The prosecution decided to release the attacker pending trial due to his age.

The gay right activists led by Gay-Straight Alliance’s Lazar Pavlovic demanded a meeting with Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic but only taped a list with their requests to the government headquarters front door after no one received them. The list was taken down by security guards, who explained that the protesters were not allowed to do that. A security guard told the protesters that Justice Ministry State Secretary Slobodan Homen would receive them at 15:00 but they refused and requested that the meeting be held on Thursday.

Members of the LGBT community said that they wanted freedom of assembly and called on the government to get involved in solving of their problems.

30 November 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

Nigerian legal attack on LGBT worsens

by Paul Canning
Nigeria’s Senate 28 November passed an ‘anti gay marriage’ bill adding further penalties and extending its scope.
The Senate added to provisions targeting those living together (and those who don’t report them) with new clauses making it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly” with 10 years imprisonment.

Says Associated Press:
…The bill also could target human rights and HIV-prevention programs run by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Nigeria, which has the world’s third-largest population of people living with HIV and AIDS. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman declined to immediately comment.

Sen. Baba-Ahmed Yusuf Datti said during Monday’s debate: "Such elements in society should be killed."

Davis Mac Iyalla campaign director of the Nigerian LGBT in diaspora group, said: “The Nigeria senators have further demonstrated their hate, discrimination and oppression of vulnerable LGBT Nigerians. I call on all respected human rights activists to join forces with us to fight the bill.”

The campaign group expressed its concerns that the bill would further turn many LGBT Nigerians living in diaspora into asylum seekers and refugees. Yemisi Ilesanmi from the group has condemned what she has called the "deafening silence" of Nigerian liberals and the left on the bill. Some Nigerian human rights groups have pointed out that a bill supposedly aimed at gay people will impact marginalised groups like migrant workers, making them subject to bribery demands from police.

The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) Executive Director- Joseph Sewedo Akoro said: “The implication of this bill is enormous and threatens TIERs legal position to operate as a human rights organization in Nigeria. We are greatly concerned by this development and hope that the House of Representatives will be careful in dealing with the bill: recognizing the provisions of the constitution towards human rights promotion and international human rights obligations.”

Writing in Behind The Mask, Akoro noted that "International opinion didn’t seem to trouble lawmakers, some of whom laughed and joked during the debate. One senator however worried that the bill would hinder the tradition of Nigeria’s Igbo ethnic group in the southeast. In this community infertile wives are allowed to “marry” other women to bear their husbands’ children," he wrote.

Read complete article here