Serbian Parties Shun Grilling on Gay Rights

An attempt by a gay rights body to get Serbian parties to reveal their positions on LGBT rights during the election campaign has not got far.

Serbian political parties are giving a wide berth to attempts by a gay rights organisation to quizz them on their stance towards the gay community.

Under the title “It’s important”, the NGO Gay Straight Alliance in Serbia has launched a campaign to press the parties to reveal their positions on gay rights issues and outline any concrete measures they would take to reduce violence and discrimination.

The organisation has sent the same questionnaire to all political parties competing in the May 6 elections.

However, only one party boss, Ivica Dacic, leader of the Socialists, has answered so far.

He said LGBT people faced a good deal of violence and intolerance in society and the authorities needed to systematically address this problem.

“Solving these problems must be done by involving all relevant state executive, legislative and judicial authorities, organisations representing the victims of violence and discrimination, the media, etc.,” Dacic responded.

Gays are a vulnerable category in Serbia, as in most Balkan countries, and those who reveal their sexuality are routinely exposed to abuse, discrimination and violence.

Last October a planned gay parade had to be cancelled after the far right threatened mayhem and police refused to guarantee the safety of marchers.

A Gay Pride march, the first to be held since 2001, took place in Belgrade in 2010, but ended with stone-throwing anti-gay youths clashing with police and threatening the marchers.

While Serbian parties – especially during an election – remain wary of upsetting voters by saying or doing anything that sounds gay-friendly, they have to balance that consideration agianst the fact that improving LGBT rights is a condition set by Brussels for Serbia’s further progress on its EU path.

Mirjana Bogdanovic, from the Gay Straight Alliance, GSA, said it was pity Serbian parties still don’t pay any attention to potential voters in the LGBT community, which most demographers believe encompasses about 5 to 10 per cent of people in most societies.

“Ahead of the elections, GSA will present a detailed report on the attitudes of political parties concerning LGBT rights and will include all parties,” Bogdanovic noted.