Commissioner for the Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic spoke about the position of LGBTI population at the conference „What is the Answer of Serbia to Homophobia“, held on the occasion of 17 May, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Stressing that prejudices against persons of different sexual orientation are deeply rooted in our society, Commissioner emphasized that LGBTI persons often don’t report discrimination cases, even violence, because of fear from stigmatization and secondary victimization. She stated that complaints that are being submitted to Commissioner because of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity make 6.6% of total number of complaints in 2017, which indicates the necessity to take additional measures in order to empower the members of LGBTI population to report discrimination. Greatest number of complaints was submitted by civil society organizations, while more than half were related to discrimination in area of public information and media, because of articles that were disturbing, humiliating and offensive for the dignity of LGBTI persons.
Stating that it is often very difficult to determine a borderline between freedom of speech and hate speech, Commissioner stressed that it presents one of the challenges, not only in Serbia but for all independent institutions in Europe that are dealing with protection against discrimination. She also stated that, within implementation of available legal mechanisms, Commissioner initiated one strategic litigation in front of courts in Serbia and that judicial practice in this area is very important for adequate implementation of existing legal frame.
Commissioner stressed that it is necessary to work on the dialog culture in order to improve position of the members of LGBTI population and increase understanding of whole society for the problems that these persons are facing in everyday life.
Other speakers at the conference were also director of Office for Human and Minority Rights Suzana Paunovic, program coordinator of Labris organization Jelena Vasiljevic and community work coordinator of Association Egal Helena Vukotic, while journalist Suzana Trninic moderated the meeting that was held in EU Info Center.