Monthly Archives: December 2013

Novi Sad: Labris presented the results of monitoring of implementation of the Recommendation of the Council of Europe.

On December, 18 in Novi sad, at Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina, Labris – Lesbian Human Rights Organization, presented the results of monitoring of implementation of the Recommendation of the Council of Europe regarding the ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity


The Model Law on Gender Identity, which would regulate rights of transgender persons, was also presented at the conference, by Gayten-LGBT, the Center for Promotion of LGBTIQ Rights.

Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

During 2012 and 2013, Labris – Lesbian Human Rights Organization, in cooperation with ILGA Europe (International Lesbian and Gay Association), monitored the implementation of the Recommendation of the Council of Europe, regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Recommendation CM/Rec (2010) 5).

Dragana Todorović, on behalf of Labris, spoke about how institutions responded to surveys, which institution did most, and where there was no progress at all. Recommendations, monitoring process and the first results were also presented during 2012, in Belgrade and Novi Sad. During 2013, the process of monitoring continued, and the report was updated with new information, such as the introduction of hate crime to the existing Criminal Code of Serbia.

The operational text of the Recommendation has four main requests: overview of existing measures in order to eliminate all types of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, implementation of effective measures to fight this type of discrimination, assuring that victims have access to effective legal remedies and assuring that the Recommendation is translated and disseminated as much as possible. Another request is, also, for the member states to act according to the principles and measures in the annex of the Recommendation.

Although Serbia has committed to promote, respect and strengthen the rights of the LGBT persons, by ratifying numerous international agreements and documents, and by adopting numerous sectoral and national laws which protect LGBT rights, these laws are not implemented efficiently. The laws where sexual orientation and/or gender identity are explicitly mentioned are the Antidiscrimination Law, Labor Law, Law on Higher Education, Law on Public Information, Law on Broadcasting, Law on Youth, Amendments and Addendums to the Law on Health Insurance, Social Security Law and Law on Amendments and Addendums of the Criminal Code.

There is a lack of systemic approach regarding the effectiveness and improvement of provisions in the existing antidiscrimination laws and bylaws, as well as in the analysis of what could be done in other spheres which are not directly connected to the existing laws, including lack of research and state statistics about cases of discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

There is evidence that shows that state authorities are incapable to efficiently deal with violence and threats, whether this is due to a lack of capacity, whether it has to do with lack of political will. Although there is a relatively adequate legal framework and legal remedies for victims do exist, these are not efficiently applied. Evidence shows that LGBT persons often do not report incidents, as they live in fear of further victimization, and even if they do decide to report an incident, it often happens that the court won’t initiate any legal action, or the court simply delays these cases. Although, there have been good examples of efficiency of police and court work.
Serbia has just recently started promoting and implementing the CMCE Recommendation, which is the result of taking part in the LGBT Project of the Council of Europe, along with Albania, Italy, Montenegro, Latvia and Poland. This is a significant positive signal that Serbia is willing to implement the CMCE Recommendation seriously, since the CMCE Recommendation is the main framework for the LGBT project, which, apart from other activities, includes the development and implementation of the Action plan.

Labris-cover-

 

REPORT

on implementation of the Recommendation CM/
Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member
states on measures to combat discrimination on
grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity in
Serbia

First BH LGBT Conference December 16, 2013, Sarajevo

Sarajevo Open Centre and Open Society Fond BiH are organising a regional conference on„Advancing human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons in Western Balkans“, on the occasion of the International human rights day on 16th of December.

Screen-shot-2013-12-12-at-11.35.22-AM

This is the first time that a conference focusing on the status of human rights of LGBT persons, not only in BiH but in the region as well, is organised in Bosnia and Herzegovina..

Conference will be participated by the representatives of the national institutions for protection of human rights and the representatives of the civil society from the Western Balkans, as well as the representatives of European Union institutions, which will discuss national mechanisms for protection of human rights and share their best practices.

Programme of the conference and the names of the participants can be found on this link.

Labris celebrated its 18th birthday

Labris – Lesbian Human Rights Organization celebrated its 18th birthday by giving awards to its partners for their special contribution to the work of Labris in 2013


On the evening of December 10th, Labris marked the International Human Rights Day and at the same time celebrated its 18th birthday by giving awards to its best partners in 2013.

The ceremony was held at the Belgrade Cultural Center “Grad” and awards were given to 17 individual and organizations for their outstanding contribution to the work of Labris and organisational and staff development, advocacy on LGBT issues, networking, volunteer work etc.

The recipients of the awards were:

  • Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the support and the trust, as well as for successful cooperation in 2013 and for introducing Labris to the several relevant Dutch Institutions;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Embassy of the United States, for extencive and generous support, on the personal and institutional level. The contribution of the Embassy of the United States to the work of Labris through personal involvement was immense and immeasurable;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • National Democratic Institute, for the contribution to organizational development and capacity building for the working team of Labris in 2013;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Reconstruction Women’s Fund for advocating for lesbian human rights in Geneva when presenting Serbia’s alternative report to the CEDAW, as well as for advocating the for lesbian human rights in the Parliament of Serbia;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Trag Foundation for raising Labris capacity in philanthropy and fund-raising in the 2013;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) for recognizing Labris advocacy and networking potentials and capacities in 2013;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Civil Rights Defenders for identifying the needs of lesbian community, for cooperation through which Labris has learned a lot. Civil Rights Defenders are more than donors to Labris;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Incest Trauma Centar – to Dušica Popadić and Ljilja Bogavac for their contribution to strengthening lesbian community in Serbia. For successful training session whitin Labris trainings, and for recognition of the importance of the cooperating with Labris;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Pharmacy and Physiotherapy School in Belgrade – for recognizing the importance of sensitizing the professional teaching staff in relation to LGBT issues;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Outline creative for expediency when it is necessary, for cooperation which is a great pleasure for Labris;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Zorica Mršević, consultant at the Institute of Social Sciences for her contribution to the development of Strategy for the Prevention and Protection against Discrimination and the respective action plan, as well as persistent, uncompromising fight against hate speech graffiti in 2013;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Dragana Vučković to successfully de-constructing the mechanisms of homophobia in 2013;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Miroslava Vuković for successful cooperation in creating The Manual for the counselling and psychotherapy with people of different sexual orientations other than heterosexual, and for identifying LGBT issues as important in the work of Institute for Student Health Care in Belgrade;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Andrej Obradović for his courage to share personal testemonies as a part of the Living Library and for participating in Labris educational trainings;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Desanka Drobac for the contribution to Labris activism, and for great volunteer support in 2013;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Mina Damnjanović for being the Best volunteer in 2013;
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

  • Nina Plakalović the generous volunteer work in developing Labris web site.
Photo: Labris

Photo: Labris

 

Labris is the oldest LGBT organization in Serbia and one of the oldest in the region (established in 1995.) and has significant experience in working with people of different sexual orientations other than heterosexual. Through Labris activities in the fields of education, information centre for lesbians, advocacy and legal assistance, Labris seeks to strengthen the LGBT community, reduce prejudice against LGBT people and help strengthen independent institutions. Labris systematically informs members of the LGBT community about their rights and works to increase their awareness of the general mechanisms of human rights protection.

The awards were developed by a sculptor Marija Kućan from the organisation “Prostor” and here we would like to use the opportunity to extend our gratitude to her and the photographer Tamara Gavrilović and music playlist by Magda Janjić.

Denver: 29th International Conference LGBT leaders

Labris’ activist took part in 29th International Conference LGBT leaders, organized by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute in Denver, Colorado, on December 5-8, 2013.


Three-day Conference, that geathered nearly 600 attendees was hosted by Colorado House of Representatives Speaker Mark Ferrandino.

Foto: Labris

Foto: Labris

Though most attendees are U.S.-based, out elected officials and advocates from countries including Spain, Japan, Colombia, and Australia particated as well.

Speakers for this year’s event included Harvey Milk Foundation Co-Founder & Board President Stuart Milk, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Rep. Mike Michaud (Maine), Rep. Jared Polis (Colorado), Rep. David Cicilline (RI), Rep. Mark Takano (Calif.), and Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.)

The annual conference, which started in the mid-1980s with just a couple dozen attendees, eventually grew into the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials.

It is our great honour to share with you that Victory Institute and Labris will conduct the Project LGBT leaders in Serbia and Balkans during 2014/2015.

Jovanka Todorovic

U.S. officials affirm support of LGBT rights in foreign policy at summit

By Michael K. Lavers on December 6, 2013

Jovanka Todorovic of Labris-Lesbian Human Rights Organization in Serbia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Jovanka Todorovic of Labris-Lesbian Human Rights Organization in Serbia. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Global LGBT rights factored into Human Rights First’s annual summit that took place this week at the Newseum in downtown Washington.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice stressed support of LGBT rights remains an essential part of U.S. foreign policy during a speech she gave on Dec. 4. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday said equality for LGBT people, women, immigrants and those with disabilities are “examples of what we can accomplish if we persevere against what is often long-standing prejudices.”

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Thursday criticized the Russian and Cuban governments’ human rights records.

The Republican, whose family fled Cuba after the 1959 Cuban Revolution during which Fidel Castro took power, singled out Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro. Ros-Lehtinen again criticized the Philadelphia-based Equality Forum and other organizations that have honored Mariela Castro for her LGBT advocacy efforts in Cuba.

“Mariela Castro does not support LGBT rights, no matter how many fake awards and medals are bestowed upon her,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “It is fundamentally impossible to support LGBT rights without supporting human rights more generally.”

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post on Thursday moderated a panel on how the U.S. can advance LGBT rights abroad.

Russian journalist Masha Gessen, Kaspars Zalitis of the Latvian LGBT advocacy group Mozaika and Jovanka Todorovic of Labris-Lesbian Human Rights Organization of Serbia were panelists. Russian LGBT Network Chair Igor Kochetkov had also been scheduled to take part in the panel, but he cancelled his appearance at the summit due to recent threats against his organization.

“I am very sorry that I cannot be with you,” said Kochetkov in a statement that Capehart read. “The current situation around LGBT organizations is seriously complicated, with attacks on activists and ordinary members of the LGBT community.”

Gessen said during the panel she feels the Russian government has launched “an all-out war on LGBT people.”

She noted Russia’s highest court earlier this week upheld the broadly worded law that President Vladimir Putin signed in June that bans gay propaganda to minors. Gessen said she expects the lawmaker who has proposed a bill that would strip gays and lesbians of custody of their children will reintroduce it after the 2014 Winter Olympics take place in Sochi, Russia, in February.

Gessen said she, her wife whom she married in the U.S. in 2004 and their children plan to leave Russia in less than three weeks.

“This is the Kremlin’s worldview,” said Gessen as she further discussed her aforementioned decision and the Kremlin’s ongoing LGBT rights crackdown. “This is really what Putin and his cronies think. They think that we are the enemy; we represent the enemy of the Russian state and the enemy of Putin personally and that mysterious foreigner that is out to destroy Russia and the traditional family and the Orthodox culture.”

Zalitis noted Latvia’s Central Election Commission last month allowed anti-LGBT groups to begin collecting signatures for a referendum on whether to introduce a measure that would ban gay propaganda in the former Soviet republic. Latvian voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“Nothing bad is going to happen because we’re prepared for anything,” said Zalitis in response to Capehart’s question about what may happen to him and the other panelists once they return to their home countries. “[Latvia is] not Russia. It’s not Uganda. It’s not Saudi Arabia. I’m going to go back and we’re going to keep fighting.”


Todorovic said LGBT Serbians continue to confront homophobia, transphobia and violence in spite of recent legislative advances that include the approval of an anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in 2009. An LGBT-inclusive hate crimes statute takes effect in January.


The Serbian government in September cited threats of violence from anti-gay extremists for the reason it decided to cancel a Pride march in Belgrade, the country’s capital, hours before it had been scheduled to take place. Todorovic said the U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby and officials from Sweden and the Netherlands had planned to take part in the event.

“Sometimes it is good to have the support, but sometimes even the support and pressure are not enough,” she said.

Founded in 1978 as the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights, Human Rights First seeks to advance global human rights. The organization has offices in D.C. and New York.

The summit took place less than a week before the 65th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for global human rights,” said Human Rights First President Elisa Massimino on Dec. 4 as she opened the summit. “We urge our government to respect human rights at home and use its influence to encourage them abroad.”

Zalitis and Todorovic told the Washington Blade in separate interviews they welcomed the opportunity to attend the summit.

“It is good to see how you are doing things here [in the U.S.] and to adjust to our reality,” Todorovic said.

Washingtonblade