Gays and lesbians in Serbia face violence, abuse and discrimination and the government is failing to protect their rights, a gay rights group said yesterday.
“The biggest problems of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] population in Serbia are violence, discrimination and hate speech,” the Belgrade-based Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) said in its annual report for 2009.
In addition, prosecutors and courts show “extreme slowness and inefficiency” in discrimination cases, it added.
“A dozen legal procedures have been launched in 2009 in order to protect victims of violence and discrimination of LGBT persons... but to date not a single case has gone to trial,” GSA’s lawyer Veroljub Djukic told reporters.
Last September, a Belgrade gay pride parade was called off after police and government officials said they could not ensure the security of the participants following threats by ultranationalist groups.
“The state neither provided an adequate response nor reacted in time by punishing extremist and violent groups,” GSA said.
The gay pride march would have been the first since a 2001 parade, the first ever in Serbia, broke up amid violent clashes with right-wing extremists.
According to GSA President Boris Milicevic, the LGBT right groups are currently assessing whether it will be possible to organize a gay pride parade in 2010.
Serbia’s minister for minorities’ rights, Svetozar Ciplic, who for the first time co-hosted the presentation of the gay rights report, said he supported a march this year. “If there is a gay pride parade this year, we will manage to show that those violent and intolerant groups are defeated,” Ciplic said.
The Serbian parliament last year passed a law banning discrimination against gays despite fierce opposition from nationalists and religious leaders.