On February 6th, at an event in the House of Human Rights and Democracy in Belgrade, Gayten LGBT presented drafts of two types of protocols on police treatment of trans people: "Protocols on police treatment of transexual and transgender people in situations of frisk and strip search and detention" and "Protocols on treatment of transexual and transgender people facing criminal sanctions". Gayten-LGBT legal team, which took part in the creation of the Protocols, presented them to the public.
Milan Agatha Đurić of Gayten-LGBT opened the presentation and talked about the social and legal national and international contexts and arguments in favour of the Protocols, the problems and the position of transexual and transgender people in Serbia, their everyday lives filled with a variety of obstacles, ignorance, discrimination and violence. He also talked about their difficult socio-economic position and the fact that they often turn to sex work, hence the problems with the law since sex work in Serbia is criminalised. Precisely due to such conditions, having protocols which would facilitate the work of institutions with trans people is of great importance, both for the institutions and trans people and trans inmates.
Saša Lazić, from the Gayten-LGBT legal team, talked about actual problems of trans people in Serbia, such as the change of personal documents, the imprecisely regulated and arbitrary practice depending on administrative workers and the municipality where the person applies for the change of documents, the problem of confidentiality and safety of personal data given to a number of institutions during the process of personal documents change, etc. He also added that the Model Law of gender identity by Gayten-LGBT would solve these problems for both institutions and trans people and make their lives easier.
Professor Zorica Mršević, also a member of the legal team, talked about the situations the Protocols aimed to regulate, such as the problem of accommodation of trans people in the appropriate prison, the problem of prevention of violence toward trans inmates, especially trans women, the problem of adequate health care for trans inmates (the continuation of hormone therapy, the gender reassignment procedure, etc), the problem of addressing trans inmates and the problem of clothes in prison. She added that since these problems were not regulated by law and that everything depends on the good will of the correctional staff, correctional management and the Directorate for the execution of criminal sanctions – all of whom up until now had shown good will and eagerness to help and fulfill the requests - by-laws should be passed which would regulate these situations, such as the Protocols. She also added that Serbia still had not passed Gender Identity Law, and that the field was a very dynamic one, always changing.
Jelena Simić, another member of the Gayten-LGBT legal team, presented the points regulated by the drafts of Protocols in detail and added that international documents and the Law on Police guarantee that the state has to have an equal treatment of everyone. Key situations regarding the treatment of trans offenders are: accommodation, addressing, health care, and the protection from further victimisation in prisons (verbal and physical abuse). She added that it was essential to let trans inmates have contact with human rights organisations.
After the Protocol drafts were presented, the discussion ensued. Aleksandar Stojmenović, a representative of the Ministry of interior of the Republic of Serbia, pointed out to the differences between a frisk and a strip search, where according to the law, the former is performed by the officers of the same sex, while the latter requires legal authority (warrant), and that police officers have to abide the law in such cases, not by-laws. He also added that police officers have to act according to the information from the personal documents of the person. Finally, he proposed a consultative meeting with the Ministry‘s representatives since they had not taken part in the drafting of the Protocols, and added that the State secretary proposed to form a Working group (with Gayten-LGBT team), to work on the improvement of the Protocol drafts.
Representatives of human rights organisations, LGBT organisations and independent state institutions such as the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and personal data protection and the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality were present at the presentation. The representatives of the two independent state institutions welcomed the creation of the Protocols and supported Gayten-LGBT‘s efforts in the improvement of trans people‘s position in Serbia.