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#special issue: Transitional Justice

Biljana Stankovic – Lori /// Through the Windows of Activism

The political image of Serbia, through the windows of the LGBTIQ community can today be presented in several ways. By political engagement of certain activists of the LGBTIQ community, we imperceptibly lost the significance of a “movement” that has been building and destroying itself for the second decade now. The adoption of Anti-Discrimination Law, the organizing of the Pride Parade and better media visibility of the community are the three most important activities in 2009. Through the window of a radical feminist and lesbian activist, the stated three themes represent an intermezzo in the total activism, the meaning of which is reflected in the creation of “safety” in every life situation. Therefore, if we are discriminated on the street, in our families, at work, at school or university, at the doctor’s or yet in a song, we actually need much more than a law, we need a Pride Parade on the way to our favorite café as well and we first need to understand and accept the picture and tone of our reality. We are currently in the “mute” phase of waiting for the successes and failures to be confused, the successes and failures of the responsibilities of the state, political leaders and individuals that, while building their own heroism, fell asleep over big and important responsibilities. For me it is better this way because it leaves room for everyone to understand their own version in their head.

The political image of Serbia, through the windows of the LGBTIQ community can today be presented in several ways. By political engagement of certain activists of the LGBTIQ community, we imperceptibly lost the significance of a “movement” that has been building and destroying itself for the second decade now. The adoption of Anti-Discrimination Law, the organizing of the Pride Parade and better media visibility of the community are the three most important activities in 2009. Through the window of a radical feminist and lesbian activist, the stated three themes represent an intermezzo in the total activism, the meaning of which is reflected in the creation of “safety” in every life situation. Therefore, if we are discriminated on the street, in our families, at work, at school or university, at the doctor’s or yet in a song, we actually need much more than a law, we need a Pride Parade on the way to our favorite café as well and we first need to understand and accept the picture and tone of our reality. We are currently in the “mute” phase of waiting for the successes and failures to be confused, the successes and failures of the responsibilities of the state, political leaders and individuals that, while building their own heroism, fell asleep over big and important responsibilities. For me it is better this way because it leaves room for everyone to understand their own version in their head.

The Anti-Discrimination Law was adopted in March this year. Certain LGBTIQ organizations had been working for years on designing and pointing out to a need for this law. Every LGBTIQ organization, at that moment, had a certain archive of cases of discrimination and deprival of basic human rights. Namely, it was clear why we had impatiently greeted the adoption of this law. Moreover, it is perfectly clear how much more effort and work is needed in order to stop the “storing” of discrimination and violence over the LGBTIQ population. Our next move should be to educate the institutions and strategically “promote” the law through activities of working with the LGBTIQ population and finally to present ourselves with the results via the media. I still wonder why we haven’t strengthened the LGBTIQ “movement” with a clear position that after the adoption of this law we will not allow further discrimination and violence. I will not mention here the candid views of Mayor Djilas (1) during the organizing process of the Pride Parade, but I will mention a brutal “nonchalance” of violence over the LGBTIQ population when a member of the state police abused an apprehended transgender Roma woman. Have we heard apologies? Have we heard frank words from the public officials concerning this violence? The answers to these questions are our everyday lives and the certainty of enforcing the Anti-Discrimination Law. Serbia in fact presented itself with a HATE CRIME YouTube video and expressed its attitude in this way.

To incompetent and unprepared politicians the Anti-Discrimination Law became interesting when the Serbian Orthodox Church withdrew it from the “market” because it felt that God’s peace couldn’t be received in return. Then the “democratic” fathers appeared that saw their political positions exactly through the support to the adoption of the mentioned law. Therefore, from the very start the adoption of the law had to do with personal positions of those that saw in it all only their own benefit. The media gave greater importance to the opinions of those that could further manipulate with the Anti-Discrimination Law, while the LGBTIQ community managed only to promise regular usage of invitations to discrimination. Which at the same time means: You just go ahead and discriminate us, at least now we can press charges against you. I had a feeling that at that very moment I had become an experiment in optional tolerance. Certain LGBTIQ organizations and individuals were also unprepared to make use of the moment of the adoption. There was unnecessary singling out of the individuals that did not make a single strategic media advance but only diverted attention to themselves. In return, they received nothing more than some prime time on the local television.

Moreover, the same thing happened with the attempt to organize and failure to hold the Pride Parade (2). I still lean towards a conclusion that today our greatest need is to revitalize the LGBTIQ movement and that this is more important than fetishism of our own heroism, because the LGBTIQ community is in fact still not autonomous. We receive support in our individual lives, in activism and struggles for our rights from the activists of the peace movement, from feminist organizations, from human rights bureaus, from friends and many others that can truly represent the LGBTIQ “movement” together with us. There are a number of examples of such support. The most recent example was on October 31st – the LGBT solidarity action carried out by the Antifascists in Action. This was a short parade at the Plato in front of the Faculty of Philosophy.

In order for our social surroundings to accept the reliabilities of its intolerance and discrimination, a great deal of effort and work is required. Through the windows of activism, we still see judgment, hatred, humiliation and discrimination of the LGBTIQ population. Imagine quite an ordinary day in which you would have to think about what kind of hair you are wearing, what kind of clothes you have put on, in which gender you are speaking, how many times you must present your partner as your roommate… Imagine you have to send someone you’ve been living with for ten years away to some friends for a couple of hours when you have relatives visiting… Imagine that somewhere at some corner or in a dark passage, a fist or a boot is waiting for you because you are holding hands with your loved one… Do you know when will I, a radical lesbian and feminist, stop recording and publishing various examples of discrimination? WHEN I HAVE WIPED WITH YOUR INDIFFERENCE ALL THE STAINED WINDOWS THROUGH WHICH THE LGBTIQ POPULATION IN SERBIA MUST WATCH ITS REALITY. WHY DON’T YOU WIPE THEM YOURSELVES?

Biljana Stankovic – Lori was born in Novi Sad in 1974. She graduated from her regular studies at the Department of Serbian Language and Literature in 1999. From 1997, she has been an activist of the feminist movement. She is currently coordinating the Novi Sad Lesbian Organization and working in two activist theatres, the FENS theatre and ACT Women, in which she deals with social issues and taboos of the society in which she lives and survives.

 

(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLJQg95xxKs
(2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPVeFhkG8Cg

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