Deputy Protector of Citizens for Gender Equality Jelena Stojanović waved rainbow flags from the building of this institution on the occasion of 17 May, the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, in support of citizens of different sexual orientation and gender identity who often face violations of rights, violence and discrimination in Serbia.
LGBTI persons are still exposed to attacks and threats, they are often victims of stereotypes, prejudice, hate speech and hate crimes, and there is a high degree of intolerance of the young towards persons of different sexual orientation and gender identity, the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić said with reference to the celebration of this international day.
The Protector of Citizens notes a specific problem of young LGBTI persons who, after their parents and family find out about their sexual orientation, have to leave their homes. This problem came to the fore during the current Covid-19 virus pandemic, given that there are currently no safe houses or other temporary care services in Serbia, or any other measures and services for young LGBTI persons in this situation.
The Protector of Citizens asserts that it is important to amend the most important legal regulations in the Republic of Serbia to improve the position and protection of LGBTI persons, and reminds that the essential measures of the
Action Plan for the Implementation of the Strategy for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination 2018-2021 have not been implemented and that the plan ceased to have effect last year, while the new one has not been adopted yet.
In the first place, it is necessary to make amendments to the Criminal Code with which the offences on the basis of sexual orientation and gender equality will also be incriminated in all criminal offences the aim of which is punishingand preventing racism and intolerance.
In addition, amendments to the Law on Police are necessary in order to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as well. The Protector of Citizens reminds that in the Regular Annual Report for 2019, he reissued the
Recommendation to the Serbian Ministry of Interior to provide training for police officers to sensitize them to LGBTI population, identify hate crimes, among other things, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and to properly respond and thus prevent secondary victimization of LGBTI persons and identify perpetrators of the attacks on those persons.
The Law on Free Legal Aid, despite several Recommendations by the Protector of Citizens, did not introduce, as a category of vulnerable beneficiaries, the LGBTI persons facing serious violations of rights in various spheres of life.
The Law on Textbooks does not enlist a provision containing an explicit prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, nor an explicit prohibition of content inciting the prejudices and stereotypes, nor are employees of educational institutions trained to sensitize and treat LGBTI persons appropriately.
The Protector of Citizens also highlights that in Serbia same-sex communities and consequences of gender-adaptation (change) and gender identity are not legally regulated, and there is still a noticeable problem related to maintaining hormonal status of transgender persons. In the Protector of Citizens’ report for 2019, the Recommendation to the Government of Serbia on the need to regulate the legal consequences of adapting (changing) gender and gender identity was reissued and a Recommendation was issued to the Ministry of Health to take measures to implement the program of depatologizing trans identity pursuant to the review of World Health Organization’s International
Classification of Diseases (ICD), which removed the transgender identity from the list of mental illnesses.
When it comes to the protection of the rights of intersex persons, the Protector of Citizens pointed out in the Report for 2019 that the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination and other relevant Laws do not contain a provision that explicitly prohibits discrimination against intersex persons, i.e. discrimination based on sex features, even though, in the Third Cycle of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on 24 January 2018, the Republic of Serbia received a Recommendation to include in the regulations the protection of LGBTI persons from discrimination based on intersex status.
The International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia is marked in memory of the day in 1990, when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of diseases.