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ILGA ILGA

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Let Your Voice Be Heard!

in SERBIA, 18/05/2010

Labris, the organisation for lesbian human rights, has undertaken an action of collecting LGBT individuals' personal stories which exemplify those situations in which they have been denied their basic human rights. The objective was to inform larger public of the specific examples of human rights violations.

       May 17th, the International Day Against Homophobia

The campaign called So that your voice be heard as well, is our voice in the sea of silence...

The mostserious assault I have suffered happened in January 2007, in a dark Sremska street. Three skinheads yelled: 'Faggot, he is a member of Women in Black'. One of them grabbed me by my hair. I was saved by a woman, one more time. It was my friend Violeta. She did not save herself. They hurt her, pushing her down on the ground. In May of the same year, in Knez Mihajlova street, by the light of the day, a peddler mocked me, calling me 'A woman in black with a penis'. In October of the very same year, at Belgrade's Republic square, a man seized a rainbow flag from my hands, broke the pole it was on, and swore at me: 'You motherfucking faggot, I will kill you.' In the early spring of 2008, in Prizrenska street, a young man felt free to kick me, after I had asked him not to speak to me.

It is necessary that I say that not one of these assaulters, and I stress, not even one of them has been prosecuted so far. None of them has been punished due to the threats they made. This country's law does not acknowledge homophobia as crime.

         Milo¹ Uro¹eviæ ofWomen in Black

This day marks the twentieth anniversary of The World Health Organisation's removal of homosexuality from the list of the International Classification of Diseases. It is also the twentieth anniversary since May 17th was chosen as the International Day Against Homophobia. However, Serbian Health Society finally proclaimed that homosexuality is not a disease on May 14th 2008. This happened eighteen years later.

Nevertheless, violence against LGBT population in Serbia is still omnipresent and made completely invisible in the public sphere. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are perceived as objects of hatred, violence and blatant discrimination, and are faced with living under constant pressure. The reasons for this are rooted in prejudice, traditionalism, irrational antagonism towards everything different, the inability and the lack of courage, the absence of the state's will to protect minority groups, as well as the growth of right-wing groups and the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The violence is rarely or hardly ever reported to the institutions, for the fear of public disclosure of one's own sexuality in a homophobic society such as Serbian.

Two years ago I was returning home to Telep by a night bus. At one of the bus stops a group of drunken young men entered the bus, and one of them started harassing me, asking mestupid questions, and tried to sit in my lap several times. I was very upset. Others paid no attention to this. He asked me if I had a boyfriend. I was so scared I couldn't speak. He said that I must be a lesbian, forced himself into my lap and yelled to others 'Look, I have a boyfriend'.

             M.B

In this very moment, all around the world, in Australia, Cameroon, Columbia, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Peru, England, the States, members of LGBT communities exchange kisses in the chain of flash mob actions, which consist of a sudden appearance in the public, quick and nonviolent realisation and an equally fast ending. In this way they are celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, glorifying love and the right to be different. In Serbia, on the other hand, regardless of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the law, it is still impossible for the LGBT individuals and their friends to gather freely and walk down the centre of the city, thus showing their legitimate endeavors in the struggle for equal rights and treatment in the society.

I would like to be able to say to at least one of my female colleagues before I retire, that I do have someone to grow old with, and that it is a woman, who has spent eighteen years by my side. Or perhaps it's no one's business?

A.R

Due to the voices of the Others you will not, cannot or do not wish to hear, due to the free society of equals, due to the right to choose and the right to love, we demand the following from the state:

1. to make possible the enjoyment of the right to assembly for the LGBTIQ individuals and to guarantee the safety of those who attend the meetings.

2. to start processing all the cases of violence against LGBTIQ individuals, as well as those cases pertaining to threats to LGBTIQ rights activists, that is, to find and prosecute the perpetrators of such criminal acts

3. to promote the right to sexual orientation as one of the basic human rights

4. to develop programmes with the aim to sensibilise the employees of the state institutions to the issue of sexual orientation and LGBTIQ human rights, firstly and most importantly the employees of the jurisdiction, prosecutor's office, police and health care institutions.

5. to introduce hate crime as the criminal act in the current Criminal law of the Republic of Serbia.

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