Until 1994, homosexuality in Serbia was considered a criminal offense. If you were a man, you could end up in jail for a year. If you were a lesbian it only counted as a misdemeanor. The country entered the new millennium as one of the most homophobic countries in Europe with the bloody aftermath of Belgrade’s first gay pride march in 2001.
Yet, as early as 2017, Serbia got its first openly lesbian prime minister. Two years later, Ana BrnabiÄ became the first head of government to have a child with a same-sex partner during his tenure. You might think the country has become the most gay-friendly destination, but the reality is far from it. Same-sex partnerships remain elusive, especially when it comes to marriages or the adoption of children.
“Our country with our lesbian prime minister is the classic example of pinkwashing,” an activist from Serbia said on condition of anonymity. Their Bosnian colleagues face the same problems, while neighboring Croatia and Montenegro have passed similar laws, in line with the recommendation of the European Union.
“I’m not a fan of marriage as an institution, but I wish I had the right to choose. If they [hetero couples] have the right to choose, and I don’t have it, how could I feel comfortable? It is important to have the right to choose whether or not to form a community with a partner, whether or not we agree with the current definitions of marriage, family and family values, âBranko Äulibrk told FairPlanet , an LGBTQI activist from Bosnia.
NO MARRIAGES OR CHILD ADOPTIONS are allowed for same-sex couples in Serbia
Although suspicious due to the broken promises they have received over the past 15 years, the community has welcomed the ad pronounced last November by the new Serbian Minister of Human Rights and Social Dialogue, Gordana ÄomiÄ, who plans to pass all the missing laws, including laws on gender equality, same-sex unions and non -discrimination.
“The three proposed laws are unconstitutional, contrary to common sense and directed against the will of the majority of citizens, tradition and identity,” says the Coalition for the Natural Family. And they’re not the only ones to believe it.
The public debate on the bill on same-sex partnerships took place in February; an evaluation followed and it is now submitted to the Council of Europe for advisory expertise. It should be discussed in parliament by the summer.
The law does not involve marriage or adoption of a child, but issues such as the right to visit a partner in the hospital, health insurance through a partner and the inheritance of real estate. or a pension after death. However, it appears those who oppose it are deliberately using populist rhetoric, claiming that the law endangers the traditional family.
OPPONENTS OF THE LAW WILL DELIBERATELY SPREAD BAD INFORMATION
The strongest opposition comes from the Serbian Orthodox Church, who claims that the bill is of great concern, that it is unacceptable and that âit is unacceptable to equalize same-sex unions with marriage and familyâ.
âThe vast majority of the proposed provisions are contrary to the Gospel of Christ and to the general experience and practice of the Church on which the Serbian people, as well as the whole of European civilization, are spiritually and morally founded. The Church said in a press. release after filing complaints with the government.
A signature battle between public figures who support or oppose the legislation has also taken place. More than 200 right-wing public figures believe existing laws on specific issues should be changed, and under no circumstances should a new law be enacted, claiming it is a step towards marriage and adoption of children.
They called on the government to prevent the passage of the law and called on the public and traditional religious communities to “react to defend the right to liberty and the future of the nation”. Right-wing politicians have called for a referendum, intentionally manipulating the public because they know the constitution does not allow for a referendum on human rights and minority rights. very quickly collected 1,600 supporting signatures.
POPULISM AT ITS BEST
Some confusion came from populist President Aleksandar VuÄiÄ, whose Progressive Conservative Party held absolute power for a decade, when he said he would veto the law.
âThe Constitution refers to the Family Law, which defines marriage as the legally regulated union of a man and a woman. Therefore, I would not be able to sign the law on same sex unions and I would return it to the National Assembly. VuÄiÄ told the daily Blic.
“It would not be the first time that the president refused to sign a law and that the Constitutional Court would act differently afterwards”, replied Minister ÄomiÄ.
Although the LGBTQI community in Serbia is ideologically divided between those who have stuck with pure activism (and have their pride march in June) and those who are moving closer to politics and sponsorship (and holding their parade in September). ), the fight for equal rights is their common ground.
University professor Jelisaveta BlagojeviÄ says she has a wife and a son. “We are a family. It is clear to me that they [right wing supporters] want to keep this family story only for the heterosexual matrix, but reality denies that, âshe told local media.
Picture: Brian copeland