Furthermore, while this law forbids "every encouragement and advocacy for national, racial or religious hatred", it does not forbid hate speech based on sexual orientation or sexual/gender identity
As is expected with the lowest ranked country
Labris is a lesbian organization that finds that there is a lack of female leadership within the LGBTI movement as a whole.
“The lack of texts which for the key word or the key topic have lesbians, mainly in side role and not as a central figure, speaks about the persistence of patriarchy, secondary discrimination of women and the lack of their visibility in media space and within the treatment of LGBT issues. The deficiency of female leaders in LGBT movement, regardless of their participation in the process of decision making and the influence of one small portion of women, tells us that the concentration of power is still in the figures of male leaders, even within the LGBT movement” (Labris 2012).
In addition to the Anti-Discrimination Law, Article 21 of the Serbian Constitution states that “everyone shall have the right to equal legal protection, without discrimination,” and Article 387 of the Serbian Criminal Code provides a framework for prosecuting those who threaten organizations and individuals due to their commitment to the “equality of people The adoption of this Article could contribute to the efficient prosecution of those suspected of violence and other crimes against LGBT persons and facilitate their stricter punishment. There are, however, no centralised official data on the number of crimes motivated by hate of LGBT persons *people also don’t report crimes because they do not trust or are afraid of authorities.
In majority of cases, the form of homophobic violence was verbal violence (91 %), followed by physical violence (24 %) and sexual violence (6 %). More men than women experienced physical violence, while women were more often victims of verbal violence.
(Article 131 – violations of equal rights, Articles 116 and 265 – discriminatory motives in murder and torture, Articles 197, 198 and 202 – violations of equality in employment and social services, and Article 297 – prohibition of incitement to religious or ethnic hatred or hatred based on sexual orientation or other personal characteristics
“In the states there is more social acceptance. I would say that's because people are more visible and people are more out. In Croatia there is only one journalist out of all public outlets. People who entered partnerships are not talking about it. We have like a hundred life partnerships; we don't have one person who went to the media to show their face. It's very huge indicator of where society is at, because if we had people in parliament, or if we had singers, anyone ya know? It doesn't have to be a soccer player, just anyone, anybody public person, just someone it would help. I would say that the difference is also in the system. The whole movement in the U.S. is that there is some power of capital that runs the show”.
While as previously noted the Serbian Lesbian group notes that the lesbian community is invisible for better or for worse discrimination wise.
4 June 2016
It can be observed that the intersection of
post-war feminist movements and the fight
for rights of LGBT individuals has given the
LGBT movement in Croatia, and Zagreb
Pride specifically, a uniquely strong
foundation that is built upon the importance
of empathy and solidarity for all victims of
Croatia: 10th at 66.55%
Slovenia: 21st at 43.4%
Serbia: 26th at 32%
Bosnia and Herzegovina: 31st at 29.4%
On a Scale of 0% (no respect) to 100% (full respect of Human Rights) out of 49
Gay Pride activists march through Belgrade. Photograph: Andrej Isakovic/AFP
1. "Rainbow Europe Country Ranking," Rainbow Europe, accessed
June 3, 2016, https://rainbow-europe.org/.
• Research conducted in BiH in 2015 by the
National Democratic Institute showed that
51% of LGBTI persons have experienced
discrimination because of their sexual
orientation and/or gender identity.2
• Research conducted by the National
Democratic Institute in 2015 showed that 15%
of LGBT people in BiH have experienced
physical violence because of their sexual
orientation and/or gender identity, and that as
many as 72% of LGBT people in BiH have
experienced verbal abuse and harassment.
However, the research did not include intersex
2. Vladana Vasić, Saša Gavrić, and Emina Bošnjak, Pink Report
2016: Annual Report on the State of Human Rights of LGBTI
People in BiH (Sarajevo, BiH, 2016), PDF
Legislation: Hate Crimes
• The Law Against Discrimination was adopted in 2009, prohibiting
discrimination based on sex, sexual expression or sexual orientation. This
Law does not include sexual/gender identity, as it was supposed to. It is not
clear what sexual expression is, nor is the term sexual orientation
defined in this law either.4
• The Government of Republika Srpska adopted their operational plan for the
implementation of the Gender Action Plan for 2016 on 15 December; this is
the first operational plan approved by a government in BiH that explicitly
mentions LGBT people. Bosnia and Herzegovina made a similar operational
state-level plan and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina also initiated
an operational plan on entity level – both will be adopted in early 20165
4. "LGBT rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina," Wikipedia, accessed June 3, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegov
5. "Rainbow Europe Country Ranking," Rainbow Europe
Legislation: LGBT and the Family
• The Council of Muftis of the BiH
Islamic Community published a
statement on 15 December,
saying that marriage is only
between a man and woman,
homosexuality is a great sin but
that violence against a person
because of their personal traits
• LGBTI individuals in Serbia, especially trans* people, are often the target of physical assaults, including those
perpetrated by family members, neighbors or co-workers. A 2010 survey revealed that 20% of Serbians believe
violence towards same-sex couples is justified, and negative public opinions of LGBTI people are often
accompanied by calls for violence.7
• In a sample of 183 LGBTI, 46.9 experienced different types of psychological violence. 10.3% of them experienced
physical violence and only 40% reported the physical violence to the police.8
• There are very little official data on LGBT issues and rights violations in Serbia. However, elaborate reports and
studies made by LGBT NGOs, similar accounts and assessments made by all stakeholders interviewed, and some
well-documented indicative events makes it possible to outline a substantiated analysis of the situation regarding
homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Serbia.9
• Gay men are by far the most represented, more than lesbians, bisexual or transgender persons - hence derogatory
language against gay men is the most widespread. Derogatory and insulting terms found in the articles referring to
the LGBTTIQ population include: followers of the fault of nature, perverse ones, sickos, the Satan's party,
radioactive gays, lezzas, faggots. 96. Labris conclude that even though there is still a great need for improvement,
the situation has improved compared to previous years when it comes to visibility. 10
7. Aliza Luft et al., Western Balkans LGBTI: Landscape Analysis of Political, Social, and Economic Conditions (Belgrade, Serbia: Astrea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, 2015), [ PDF.
8. Marina Milković, BRUTAL REALITY: A Research Study Investigating Anti-LGBTIQ Violence, Discrimination, and Hate Crime in Croatia (Zagreb, Croatia: Zagreb Pride, 2013), PDF.
9. Study on Homophobia, Transphobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Sociological Report: Serbia (n.p.: The Danish Institute on Human Rights, n.d.), accesse
3, 2016, http://www.coe.int/t/Commissioner/Source/LGBT/SerbiaSociological_E.pdf.
Legislation: Hate Crimes
• In March of 2009, the Serbian National Assembly narrowly passed the Anti-Discrimination Law
despite immense opposition from religious leaders and right-wing political parties. The law
bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, and other
characteristics, and was part of broader reforms in Serbia to meet standards for
admission to the European Union. (Heartland Alliance 2010).11
• The Criminal Code was amended in 2012 and now includes Article 54a, under which in courts
shall consider as an aggravating circumstance the commission of a crime out of hate of
another on grounds of his race, religion, national or ethnic affiliation, sexual orientation or
gender identity. (Belgrade Center for Human Rights 2015). 12
Legislation: LGBT and the Family
• Public discussion on an official
preliminary draft of a new Civil
Code, including registered
partnership for same-sex
couples, started on 2 July and
will run until summer 2016.13
13. "Rainbow Europe Country Ranking," Rainbow Europe.
• The latest research into homophobic violence (Kuhar, Magić, 2008) showed that 67.6 % of GLBT persons
surveyed have experienced discrimination or violation of human rights due to sexual orientation or gender
• Looking at the geography of homophobic violence, public space turns out to be the most dangerous place
for gays and lesbians as majority of homophobic attacks took place in public space and were committed by
strangers (61 %). Roman Kuhar report.15
• The research on homophobic violence (Kuhar, Magić, 2008) showed that major ity – over 92 % of those
who have experienced homophobic discrimination or violence – did not report it. Respondents who have
reported homophobic incidents have no negative experiences with the police when reporting the violence.
Sixty percent of respondents reported police officer being neutral and 40 % described the police officer as
14. Roman Kuhar and Alenka Švab, Homophobia and Violence against Gays and Lesbians in Slovenia (Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2009), ,
Legislation: Hate Crimes
• In 2009 the Constitutional Court confirmed that the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the
ground of sexual orientation as well, although this ground is not specifically listed in the
Constitution. Slovenia has ratified all the main human rights treaties concerning
discrimination, most recently Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights.
• Before the adoption of the EU directives, discrimination was already prohibited by penal
legislation that was changed in 2008 with the adoption of the Penal Code, which defines
various crimes connected to violations of equal rights.
Legislation: LGBT and the Family
• The marriage equality law was rejected by 63% to 37%; voter turnout was 36%.
• On 22 December, Jani Möderndorfer MP (independent) submitted a bill to give
additional rights to same-sex couples in civil partnerships. It did not include any
reference to adoption or medically assisted insemination for same-sex couples.
• Since 2006 as much as 73.6% of the participants experienced some form of violence because
of their sexual orientation, sex/gender identity and/or gender expression“.15
• 60.4% or 417 of 690 experienced some form of psychological violence because of their
sexual orientation, after 2006.16
• 38.3% experienced some form of sexual violence on the basis of their sexual identity, after
2006. 24 were coerced into sexual intercourse and 9 were raped because of their sexual
• Throughout 2015, at least 10 people were waiting for a decision on their application to have
their gender legally recognised under existing regulations. The deadline for responses passed
but none of the 10 received a reply. As a result, no one in Croatia was able to change their
gender marker under these regulations in 2015.
15. Milković, BRUTAL REALITY: A Research.
Legislation: Hate Crimes
• The 2008 Anti-Discrimination Law includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression on the
list of protected categories against discrimination when it comes to access to either public and private
services, or to access to establishments serving the public18
• Other anti-discrimination directives have been included in various pieces of legislation since 2003:
• Penal Code (includes hate crime legislation and "racial and other discrimination");
• Gender Equality Law;
• Criminal Procedure Law;
• Law on Science and Higher Studies;
• Media Law;
• Electronic Media Law (anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression);
• Life Partnership Act;
• Labour Code;
• Sport Law;
• Asylum Law;
• The Law on volunteering (anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression)
• On 1 January 2013 new Penal Code has been introduced with the recognition of a hate crime based on a
18. "LGBT Rights in Croatia," Wikipedia, accessed June 3, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Croatia.
Legislation: LGBT and the Family
• In the first year since the Same-Sex Life Partnership Act was passed, 97 couples
registered a life partnership (between September 2014 and September 2015).19
• In July 2015, the Municipality Court of Zagreb, for the first time, granted ‘partner-
guardianship’ for a second mother of a baby born into a lesbian life partnership.
The ‘partner-guardianship’ is a form of care for a minor child which may be
provided by a life partner after the death of the life partner who is the parent of the
In order to gain an understanding of the history of the movement in Croatia I
conducted an interview with Jay Poštić, activist, coordinator and financial
manager of the NGO Zagreb Pride.
The interview served to give an understanding of Zagreb Pride as a social
movement, its successes and faults.
It was useful as an overview of the discrimination and challenges of the
LGBTIQ situation and context within Croatia and in the wider Balkan region
with emphasis on Serbia, Bosnia, and Slovenia. Serbia and Bosnia do not
have EU member status while Slovenia and Croatia are member of the EU.
Interview with Jay Poštić
Zagreb Pride 2015 – Photo credits: Kristina Josic
“We came all together on that, which is
also very good. The wider idea of
social justice and the idea that these
issues are interconnected stayed with
people. For example, there was an
issue in Croatia, for example today's
Center for Peace Studies and the
Center for Women's Studies,
conscientious objectors. All these
different groups came out of the same
initiative, the same umbrella that had
this anti-war, peace”.
The Origins of the LGBT Movement
According to Jay Poštić, gay and lesbian movements have their roots in
feminist movements of the 70’s and 80’s and began to form in the early
90’s. The conflict of 1991 halted these human rights and social justice
The LGBT Movement in and the
Feminist Movement in Croatia
“We started with a very inclusive
framework. For example, Zagreb Pride
started as a queer feminist organization.
That is our mission, so it’s this platform,
so it’s not identity based in a way”
“The feminist movement is the one that
gave space to queer initiatives in the
Balkans. And that's why I would say,
there were very few, like if there was a
group of gay men who came together to
organize something, that has happened
too, but they were not part of the whole
civil society and it’s much harder for them
if they are not feminist to succeed, to
sustain themselves” (Poštić).
Poštić mentioned that there is in fact cooperation but his statement
suggests that since the emergence of various Pride organizations and
other LGBTIQ NGOs post-Yugoslavia and post-war, the movements
have collaborated less intentionally.
“But we do have in 2003 we started to see a network that is not active
anymore but it’s important because in the course of three years we
actually created this platform of action, and how it is we see inequality
or LGBTIQ people in the Balkans, and what the root cause of the
problem is, and what we are fighting for. So we all came together, like
twenty organizations in former Yugoslavia and we gather, discuss it, and
wrote it. And those active now are just taking over, and that is an
important thing because that spread around the region”.
“So actually in terms of sustainability of pride we are thinking how to
connect it with tourism, because that would make sense and Heineken
makes no sense. Commercial stuff makes no sense but actually some
tourist agencies that bring a lot of people from Germany, a lot of queer
people. Maybe somehow let them know that they can always call us to
get some connection with the tourists and somehow we can be
Cooperation/Sustainability of LGBTIQ
movements within the Balkan Region
In Croatia the issue of sustainability is important for the Pride
Parade. Zagreb Pride is a protest march and as such cannot
be a paid for event. When Zagreb Pride Parade becomes a
parade and a celebration of equality the goal is to keep it free
and inclusive for all queer folks.
“We see that people are being charged for participating and we
don't want that. But that is also a challenge for us to see how it
is sustainable then if everything is free. How do we organize it
then? How can it be free without having Heineken logos
somewhere? We think that if we switched into this sponsorship,
commercial type, that that is not right. We would lose support,
people wouldn't come, we would have Heineken logo but we
wouldn't have the people. So there is a lot of political and
ideological, there is this political platform as I said, on which we
act. So that is what kept us on course for all these years”.
Sustainability of the Movement
Poštić and Zagreb
Pride are critical of the
the power of money
that plays a role in the
Pride parade and finds
it to problematic as it
excludes those who
cannot afford to pay.
money spent on
partying could be
spent on the large
number of homeless
“That's not the point and that's sad because there
are so many queer homeless kids, and partying
doesn't really do much for that”.
“My first critique would be the idea that community
that needs to be empowered and feel free on Pride
Day, because it's their day, actually have to pay…
Whereas the Pride Day itself is just gated and like
you can pay, that's all there is to it. It's lost its
purpose in some way. Parties sure, but there are
so many issues”.
Comparison and Critique with the
United States LGBTIQ Movement
There are many challenges for the NGOs in getting funding and getting into public
spaces, such as schools and being well received. There is the unique issue of the
youth being less accepting than older generations.
“Sometimes, it’s very hard and that’s one of the problems is that what we are seeing
is that it’s not like older generations that are conservative its actually the youth, that
are very very conservative and neo-fascist”.
“The biggest issue is well, violence and hate crimes, we keep thinking it’s going
away and then it comes back. It fluctuates depending on the situation, depending on
who is in power. Now we are seeing more attacks than in the previous years, the
narrative changes of the people who are in government and then they call out the
people who have some more hateful attitudes and allow them to and enable them to
actually start persecuting people”.
Biggest Challenges to the Movement
and to LGBTIQ Individuals
Due to the current right wing government and the rise of right
wing sentiment in the population a priority is maintaining the
spaces for LGBTIQ people, the legal codes that have been
written and ensuring their enforcement.
“We were hoping that we were going to move onto gender
identity now when life partnership has passed but now we
have neoconservative attack on reproductive rights and there
is no room right now to talk about it. We have to make sure
right now that what we have achieved stays. With the next
flow of election with some liberal ideas then we will look at
Goals for the Future
While Zagreb Pride and the LGBTIQ movement in
Croatia seems to be rather intersectional it has not been
on the issue of Roma inclusion. There has been little
cooperation even with the feminist Roma groups and
there is no specific outreach to those communities.
In the conversation it was made clear that Zagreb Pride
advocates for liberal and progressive queer people.
Poštič said, “And we are queer feminist and anti-fascist
organization so that’s at the basis. If you ask us if we
care about gay fascists, we don't”. This is problematic
as a questioning individual from a conservative
background my find themselves resorting to internalized
homophobia and contribute to the further discrimination
of LGBTIQ individuals and vote against the interest of
Croatian civil society organizations have remained cohesive enough to
render the most effective intersectional movements in the Balkan region.
This structure is not the same in Serbia, Bosnia, and Slovenia.
The Predominant LGBT organization in Serbia known as Gayten states as
follows, “Over many years without fully realizing it, gay men have become
pioneers. Through discrimination and loss on many levels, we have had to
find a way to live in the world without compromising our whole selves. How
have you done your pioneering? Consider the radical possibility that being
gay is a spiritual calling (Gayten 2015). http://www.gay-
The internet presence in Slovenia has until recently been that of the strictly
gay or lesbian groups of MAGNUS and LL, groups that do not inherently
include transpersons http://www.ljudmila.org/siqrd/guide/
Bosnia and Herzegovina faces the religious discrimination two fold,
particularly Muslim LGBTQI.
IGLA - Europe. "Rainbow Europe Country Ranking." Rainbow Europe. Accessed June 3, 2016.
Kuhar, Roman, and Alenka Švab. Homophobia and Violence against Gays and Lesbians in Slovenia.
Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2009. PDF.
"LGBT rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina." Wikipedia. Accessed June 3, 2016.
"LGBT Rights in Croatia." Wikipedia. Accessed June 3, 2016.
Luft, Aliza, Senka Filipovi?, Kellea Miller, and Irene Schneeweis. Western Balkans LGBTI: Landscape
Analysis of Political, Social, and Economic Conditions. Belgrade, Serbia: Astrea Lesbian Foundation
for Justice, 2015. PDF.
Milkovi?, Marina. BRUTAL REALITY: A Research Study Investigating Anti-LGBTIQ Violence,
Discrimination, and Hate Crime in Croatia. Zagreb, Croatia: Zagreb Pride, 2013. PDF.
Study on Homophobia, Transphobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and
Gender Identity Sociological Report: Serbia. N.p.: The Danish Institute on Human Rights, n.d.
Accessed June 3, 2016. http://www.coe.int/t/Commissioner/Source/LGBT/SerbiaSociological_E.pdf.
Vasi?, Vladana, Saša Gavri?, and Emina Bošnjak. Pink Report 2016: Annual Report on the State of
Human Rights of LGBTI People in BiH. Sarajevo, BiH, 2016. PDF.