Belgrade, 29 September 2015

The night between 26 and 27 September, 4 lesbians suffered a brutal attack in central Belgrade.

Right after a literature evening, Dragoslava Barzut, a writer, feminist and lesbian activist, together with her 3 lesbian friends went to the cafè "SFRJ" in downtown Belgrade. Around 1 am, a vividly agitated young man entered the cafè, started shouting "Lesbians! Lesbians!", and immedately began cursing and beating them, one by one. Three of the girls were injured, one with a broken tooth, injured eye, and back injury caused by the guy's leg punch, Dragoslava fell down on the floor after being hit by the guy in her head, and the other friend also got beaten. The fourth one managed to hide herself behind the fridge, while a few of the other guests in the cafè stepped up to prevent any further violence to happen. 

When Dragoslava and her friends started recovering from the attack, checking their injuries, and calling the police, another young guy rapidly entered the cafè, and attacked the lesbian who was already badly injured. At that moment, the waitress in the cafè stood in front of her and tried to stop the new attacker, getting a punch in the head. Once bottles and glasses began to be thrown around, the waitress managed to hide and lock the three girls in the toilet nearby, with the fourth one still being outside. Only a few minutes later, the two attackers ran away and the police came.

In the heartfelt speech held during the press conference earlier today, Dragoslava highlighted: "At this moment, I am thinking of all my friends, especially of my parents, who are now going through very difficult time, coping with my different sexual orientation. However, one of the main reasons why lesbians do not report violence is exactly because of the fear they have for their dearest ones. Because of our love for them, we do not report violence in order to protect them, to protect the people that we love. Yet today, I choose to love myself. And I know I cannot speak on behalf of all my lesbian friends injured and beaten, who live in constant hide, lie, and pain, who live in everything, but free life.”

This is the first such cruel attack against lesbians in a public space in Serbia and a harsh wake-up call after the relatively calm year-and-a-half period of almost no SOGI-based violence reported in Serbia. Dragoslava, an avid football fan herself, was leading the Campaign against Homophobia in Sport last year, and there is a suspicion that the two attackers belong to “Rad’ – a football fan club whose members are already known for perpetrating homophobic acts of violence.

Serbia adopted a law on hate crime in 2012, however, there is not a single court verdict on a hate crime based on SOGI yet. The YUCOM representative at today’s press conference organised by Labris – Lesbian Human Rights Organisation, confirmed they will lodge a case in front of the authorities for a hate crime explicitly based on sexual orientation.