The opinion was adopted in the proceedings regarding the complaint filed by the AA against the Center for Social Work of the City of Novi Sad due to discrimination based on language. In the complaint, it was stated that AA is a citizen of the United States of America, with a temporary residence in Novi Sad, that he does not speak Serbian, and that the Center for Social Work informed him in writing that ” Serbian it is the official and only language for work at the Marriage and Family Counseling Center,” that “counseling and psychotherapy work cannot be carried out with the help of a translator,” and that the complainant cannot participate in the work of the Counseling Center with his extramarital partner and minor son because he does not speak Serbian. In the complaint, it was further stated that he offered to bear the translation costs of the counseling procedure himself, but that the person entrusted with this case refused to allow him to follow the course of counseling with an interpreter, with the explanation that the court interpreter would not faithfully translate the course of counseling. In the statement of the Center for Social Work, it was stated that the Center informed the complainant that counseling and psychotherapy work cannot be carried out with the help of an interpreter and that had in mind the interpreter offered by the complainant, who were his friend and current extramarital partner. It was further stated that the complainant did not mention an authorized court interpreter in his first address, which he did only subsequently. At the request of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality that the Center for Social Work specifies at what moment the complainant presented the proposal that the authorized interpreter attend counseling and therapy work, what was the response of this body to that proposal, and what professional reasons were the basis for rejecting the primary request of the complainant that the role of a translator during counseling and therapy work be performed by his friend or extramarital partner, the Commissioner did not receive an answer. During the procedure, it was determined that the Center for Social Work of the City of Novi Sad explicitly stated in its letter dated February 22, 2022, that therapeutic work cannot be carried out with the help of an interpreter. The center included the complainant’s mother, former extramarital partner, and minor son in the counseling and therapy work while excluding the complainant only because he does not speak Serbian. For this reason, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality gave the opinion that by refusing to allow AA to participate in family counseling and therapeutic work with his minor child and ex-extramarital partner through an interpreter, just because he does not speak Serbian, the Center for Social Work of the City of Novi Now violated the provisions of Article 6 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination. It was recommended to the Center for Social Work of the city of Novi Sad to enable AA to participate in counseling and psychotherapy with his minor child and former extramarital partner, regardless of the fact that he does not speak Serbian, as well as that in the future, within the scope of its duties, it does not violate anti-discrimination regulations.
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY