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The Balkans: Human Rights and LGBT

A few days ago, the Serbian Ministry of Culture approved a little more than 2,000 EUR for the development of Queeria web portal. It is the first time that the Serbian government gives money to any LGBT movements. This act has drawn the attention of the public in Serbia, inspiring numerous public discussions of the issue.

Another Serbian gay web site – the Gay Straight Alliance – published an article (SRP) about the European Commission‘s assessment of the situation with gay population in the ex-Yugoslav republics.

SERBIA:

The report about Serbia's development says that violent attacks, hate speech and sexual discrimination are common. It also says that the government hasn't stopped discrimination. The report stresses that the anti-discrimination laws have not been adopted yet, while the protection against job discrimination and protection on occasion of unemployment is very weak. However, in the report there are no explicit examples about violent attacks, hate speech and threats affecting gay-related events in Serbia, such as [Eurovision] and a gay festival that took place in September. [ILGA-EUROPE] (the International Lesbian and Gay Association) called to the European Commission to continue the monitoring, especially of the rights of free gathering of gay population in Serbia.

MONTENEGRO:

[...] According to the report, there is homophobia in Montenegro. At the same time, there is no law protecting these people. The report says that Montenegro needs anti-discrimination measures that would cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Although there is freedom of association in Montenegro, fear of discrimination and stigmatization are the main obstacles that keep Montenegrin gays from getting organized. The fear is also the reason why this population is not active in fighting for its rights. [...]

KOSOVO:

Although there are laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation, the report stresses very bad application of these laws. There is homophobia in the media and public opinion and many gays are not aware of the protection that these anti-discrimination laws could give them. As in Montenegro, the level of organizing of the gay population is very low. There is also the fear of discrimination and stigmatization and many don't dare take part in actions carried out by gay organizations. Because of fear, many cases of violence are not reported. Also, a lot of cases of violence were committed by state authorities.

CROATIA:

According to the Commission, Croatia is the only country in the region in which there has been development in regards to the European integration and protection of human rights. Croatia adopted an all-inclusive anti-discrimination law in July 2008. It will have a positive influence on gay rights. The law is in keeping with European standards, but the report underlines that its practical application is not sufficient. The degree of protection against discrimination is lower than in Europe. [...]

MACEDONIA:

The report says that anti-discrimination law hasn't gone into effect yet and the current legislation is not in keeping with European standards. There are explicit examples of discrimination against queer population in the report as well as a recommendation that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity be included in the national strategy against discrimination.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA:

The report says that Bosnia & Herzegovina put an effort in order to improve the human rights situation. It also says that there is no all-inclusive anti-descrimination law and that the government formally and informally supports discrimination and violence against gay population. Also, there is job and employment discrimination, as well as disregard for the right of free association, and violence against some people because of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the report doesn't mention the brutal attack and violence during the [gay festival in Sarajevo]. ILGA-EUROPE asked that the Commission included this information in its report for 2009 since there was violence against participants during the festival, the offices of gay movements were attacked, death threats were made against activists and organizers of the festival and the police did not react.

Almost all Croatian media have recently published the news about signing of the petition against homosexuality.

According to the daily news section of Croatian website of Dnevnik.hr, on occasion of France's initiative in the United Nations (Croatia supported it) about global decriminalizion of homosexuality, representatives of a civil initiative “Sign the Declaration” organized signing of a petition against homosexual marriages and abortion, among other things. The petition could be signed in Catholic churches around Croatia on Dec. 7. The Serbian Orthodox Church, Macedonian Orthodox Church as well as the Islamic religious community supported this petition.

Reacting to this action, members of Croatian gay rights movements distributed leaflets with the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in front of Zagreb's Cathedral.

Sanja Juras, coordinator of the Lesbian group Kontra said:

The Church has distorted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the media and abused it in order to challenge the homosexuals’ right to have a family as well as women's right for an abortion.

Here are several comments by Croatian readers:

Tinta10 says:

All who support gays and besmirch the Church are miserable.

Starimladi:

It is no argument that the initiative is supported by all religious communities. Religious organizations think dogmatically. They exclude any logical thinking and researching. Professionals – psychologists, sociologists, doctors – should answer about health, illness and conception. Not dogmatists. They think that they are God's deputies and they believe only what they say is true. On behalf of God they made a lot of evils so that they don't have credibility.

Angell says:

[...] It shouldn't be bad toward homosexuals but it shouldn't support them. Homosexuality is illness which has to be treated. If people live according to the New Testament or the Ten Commandments, it will be the way it should be. [...]

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