Presentation of LGBT Report Stopped

Two days before the planned press conference, the Director of Sava Centar notified the organisers that the report about the situation for LGBT persons in Serbia could not be presented in the Centre. “That kind of organisations are not welcome”, he announced.

Gay-Straight Alliance, partner of the Swedish Helsinki Committee, has conducted a wide survey in cooperation with the institute of public opinion CeSID that has resultet in the report “This is our Country”.

“The refusal of (the Conference Centre) Sava Centar to host the press conference is a scandal,” says Goran Miletic, human rights lawyer for the Swedish Helsinki Committee in Serbia. The statement of the Director contained gross insults and hate speach.

Despite strong protests from the organisers and from other human rights organisations in the country, the decision seems to remain. The press conference that was planned for Thursday 26 February will probably be held at some other location. It is still not clear where.

The conclusions in the report are mainly disheartening, even though some small steps of improvement can be found. The report shows that homophobia is deeply rooted in the great majority of the population, with seven out of ten Serbian citizens considering homosexuality to be an illness and one in two believing that homosexuality is very dangerous for society.

Social acceptance of LGBT persons exists only at the theoretical and mostly impersonal level of compatriot and fellow citizen, while the closer the connection, the lower the acceptance. For most Serbian citizens, LGBT individuals are unacceptable as co-workers or employers, as well as high raking officials, friends and family members.

In the preface of the report Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at Council of Europe, expresses concern regarding the negative attitudes towards LGBT persons in Serbia, and underlines the importance of broader and more systematic education and awareness efforts and more principled positions by leading politicians.

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