Press release regarding the complaint against Aleksandar Martinović MP

The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality continues to support all efforts exerted towards promoting the position of the LGBT population living in Serbia as persons of different sexual orientation still face numerous challenges in their everyday life: hate speech, violence and threats. This is the reason this independent institution, apart from acting on complaints on regular basis, issues Warnings and Statements, the Commissioner and staff members take part in various activities and training sessions and pursues other activities aimed at enhancing human rights of LGBT persons.

Regarding actions taken with respect to the case of Aleksandar Martinović MP, which was the subject of keen attention of some non-governmental organizations, we would wish to stress the following: the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality acts in accordance with the Law and the Constitution.  Article 103, paragraph 2 of the Constitution states that “Criminal or any other charges shall not be brought against a Member of the National Assembly for expressing his/her opinion or casting a vote in the course of performing his/her function as the Member of the National Assembly”. This means that Aleksandar Martinović MP enjoys immunity against criminal prosecution granted to him by the Constitution and our institution has never violated nor does it have any intention of violating the supreme law of the Republic of Serbia. The criticism designed to insinuate that our institution should venture outside the limits and realm of the Law and Constitution, constitutes conscious and malicious pressure on the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.

The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality in no shape, scope or form supports insults, belittling or discriminatory statements directed against any marginalized groups or individuals on any grounds, including sexual orientation, made by anyone, least of all a member of the National Assembly. However, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality has no authority to regulate, control or supervise MPs’ behavior at the sessions of the National Assembly.

We would wish to reiterate that the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality has sent a letter to the National Assembly suggesting amendments to the National Assembly Rules of Procedure which would ensure compliance with the principles consistent with the prohibition of discrimination and introduce disciplinary measures for those MPs who fail to observe the antidiscrimination principles.

We respect all our civil society partners and organizations and welcome any well substantiated criticism as important and useful contribution to our work. At the same time we take this opportunity to point out once again that the scope of authority of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality is strictly defined by the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination which means that we are operating in keeping with a precisely defined procedure.

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