Commissioner for Protection of Equality found that the statements Ivica Dacic made about LGBT people represent harassment and humiliation. The leaving Prime Minister, according to the Commissioner’s recommendation, has to refrain from making such statements which offend dignity of LGBT people, and has to receive a delegation of Labris in order to immediately find out what kind of problems LGBT persons are facing
Commissioner for Protection of Equality found that leaving Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, when speaking about the Pride Parade in his address to the media on September 23, 2013, committed an act of discrimination by making harassing and humiliating statements that offend the dignity of LGBT people.
Specifically, in his address to the media a few days before the fourth ban of the Pride Parade, Dacic stated:
Photo: sfgate via creative commons
“They are equal with other citizens, but do not tell me that this is normal when it is not. If this is normal, why are we the exceptions?”
“Homosexuals have the same rights but not the right to set any rules of conduct. I don’t hate them, I just cannot accept that this is normal because it is not natural. If this is the minority and the exception, then they should be careful not to offend the feelings of the majority.”
“If it exists in the EU that does not mean that we should support this phenomenon. So please, I don’t want anyone to tell me that it’s a model according to which we are going to raise and educate our children. They have the right to assemble, but I’d rather they do not gather because of security reasons.”
Dacic also stressed that it is still not known whether the Pride Parade will be held, but that he found it is not normal that someone is planning that gathering.
Considering these statements as discriminatory and as fuelling prejudice toward LGBT people as “unnatural and sick”, Labris, together with other civil society organizations (Autonomous Women’s Center, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, Gayten LGBT – Centre for the Promotion of LGBTIQ Human Rights, Gay and Lesbian Information Centre, Goosi – Gay organization of persons with disabilities, Support group for young LGB people – “Izadji” (Come out), Women’s Space, YUCOM – Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights, Queeria – Centre for the Promotion of culture of nonviolence and equality, Kulturpark, the Network of Committees for Human Rights in Serbia – Chris, Regional Centre for Minorities Reconstruction Women’s Fund, Safe pulse of Youth and many individuals) filed a complaint according to the Antidiscrimination Law.
Such statements not only justify discrimination and violence against LGBT people, but also promote discrimination and violence toward LGBT people as a socially desirable behaviour. Besides making the additional distance between heterosexual and LGBT persons, these statements represent sexual orientation as something that is a matter of choice; disregarding the fact that sexual orientation is a given characteristics, one of the many personal characteristics of an individual.
Invited to comment on the allegations in the complaint, Dacic continued further discrimination, and while ignoring the responsibility of his position, he said that the opinion of the majority is what is relevant and what is to be supported, because that is what democracy is.
We are wondering if there is any place for minorities in such a democracy, where he, as a Prime minister only supports the attitudes of the majority.
Following this vision of democracy, the question would be, whether he would, for example, support violence and discrimination against asylum seekers and Croats, as the majority attitude of the citizens of Serbia towards these minority groups is negative? We would like to remind Mr. Dacic, as well as other representatives of public authorities, that protection and promotion of the rights of minority groups is one of the basic features of a democratic society.
Commissioner for Protection of Equality stated that such discriminatory statements do not contribute to the development of tolerance and they are just further deepening animosity and hatred against LGBT people.
The statement that homosexuality is not normal or natural, represents unacceptable labelling and insulting the dignity of the persons, creating a humiliating and offensive environment for them. These statements have special weight bearing on mind that they were made by the highest state official whose constitutional and statutory duty is to comply with principles of anti-discrimination and equality of all citizens and not just the opinion of the majority.
Giving such statements is degrading and insulting, and contributes to the creation and maintenance of stereotypes and prejudices, stigmatization and intolerance. This is especially so taking into account the extremely negative social perception of LGBT people and the high level of homophobia, which is not an innate human characteristic, but rather an ideological position that is adopted by socialization and reproduced through practices based on ignorance. Bearing this on mind, everyone else who by its authority, influence the creation of public opinion, aware of their responsibility for public spoken word must be especially careful. Therefore, this makes their commitment not to encourage and act in support of stereotypes of LGBT people even more important.
We use this opportunity to remind that in Serbia, the Anti- Discrimination Law entered into force in spring 2009 and that, among other groups, discrimination against LGBT people based on their personal characteristics – sexual orientation – is prohibited by Article 12.
Labris expresses satisfaction over another complaint that was resolved in favour of LGBT people and we will continue to respond to the cases of discrimination in the future by using the mechanisms for the protection of human rights and by monitoring the implementation of those regulations that protect the basic human rights of the LGBT community.