ECRI recommends Serbia to address violence against LGBT persons

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) , a human rights body of the Council of Europe published its new report on combating racism and intolerance for Serbia. Launched on 16 May 2017 it monitors problems of all forms of discrimination and intolerance including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In this report ECRI argues that despite progress in anti-discrimination legislation, strong efforts to reconcile with the war past and improvement of the situation of Roma, much needs to be done to address the continued rise in hate speech, fight racism among sport fans, protect Roma and LGBT persons and step up the prosecution of war crimes.

More specifically with regards to LGBTI and human rights in general ECRI commended the fact that the new Anti-Discrimination Strategy provides for introducing legislation on registered partnerships for same-sex couples.

One negative development noted by ECRI is the continued rise in hate speech in Serbian political discourse. The use of inflammatory language is reminiscent to the situation before the recent wars in the region. More decisive action is needed to combat hate speech from racist organizations and, in particular, from racist football fan groups. According to the experts “this issue is of particular importance, given the role that racist and violent football fan groups played in the outbreak of the recent wars in the region” the report stresses.

The report notes also that homophobic and transphobic violence is heavily underreported: in 2015, the authorities registered only 33 racist, homo and transphobic hate crimes in the whole country, whereas in a survey of the same year, 23% of Serbian LGBT persons said that they had suffered physical violence in the past; frequently from family members.

Among top priorities ECRI recommends the Serbian Parliament and Government to adopt codes of conduct which prohibit the use of hate speech.