Closer integration between people and police, firmer adherence to the rule of law, and the adoption of clear guidelines for the judiciary will foster vastly improved relations and a greater appreciation of the issues affecting Serbia’s LGBT community, Belgrade Pride organisers have said. It will also make Serbia a safer place to live.
Belgrade Pride organisers have published a roadmap to a safer Serbia, detailing what needs to be done if the country can move towards equal rights and improved safety for the country’s LGBT community.
Hate Crimes Should be Criminalised
The demands, which have been drawn up following more than six months of extensive conversations and research with the LGBT community, police and the authorities, also call for hate crimes to be criminalised within the Criminal Code of Serbia, in line with repeated demands from human rights and LGBT organisations to bring Serbia’s law into line with European standards. “This is one of the key demands of all minority communities, as courts in Serbia still do not take as an aggravating circumstance if an attack was motivated by a certain personal characteristics,’ said Belgrade Pride Organising Committee boss Goran Miletic.
Legal proposals that directly affect LGBT people are in need of a public debate, while laws that have not been disputed, including the Law on Recognition of Legal Consequences of Sex Change, should be adopted immediately. The committee wants to highlight that, despite the Law Against Discrimination and several laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (Broadcasting Act, Public Information Law, Law on Higher Education), no new law or amendment has contributed to improving the status of LGBT people since 2009.
As a start, the organisers of Belgrade Pride have called for the weight of the law to be brought down on all those whose threats and planning for violence led to the banning of last year’s Belgrade Pride Parade. “The National Security Council of Serbia decided to ban all public gatherings on October 2 and 3 2011, because of preparations for major riots by extremists,’ Goran said. “Although details of the planned riots were publicly disclosed, not one person was arrested and not a single legal action was initiated. We expect the law to be applied to those who were preparing the mass riots [against Belgrade Pride]. Police and prosecutors must immediately begin procedures and inform the public about the identity of the individuals and groups who prepared the riots.”
National Strategy Against Violence
Elsewhere in the list of demands, Pride organisers call for the adoption of the National Strategy against Violence, which will protect against specific LGBT-related violence and threats but has been sitting in a drawer since it was drawn up by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Foreign Policy in October 2005.
They also call for the adoption of an Action Plan that will clearly define the responsibilities of the state in combating violence specifically targeting LGBT people and, in particular, LGBT human rights defenders and those who participate in LGBT events. The plan should also include those who use the internet and social media to muster violence against LGBT people.
Greater cooperation between government agencies and LGBT community leaders is also very much in need, said Goran, who has identified a need for the police, judiciary and other authorities to be more open to training organised by LGBT groups.
The Belgrade Pride Organising Committee has also expressed the need for an LGBT liaison person, trained in problems specific to the community, for every police service in each of Serbia’s twenty four cities. “Except in Belgrade and Novi Sad, where there has been some progress in the co-operation between police and representatives of the LGBT community, in other Serbian cities, there is a misunderstanding or outright hostility toward the LGBT community,’ said Goran. “By appointing a contact person in each city, a proper communication channel would be established for cases of violence and threats.”