ERA-LGBTI spoke with Milena Marković, an activist from Rainbow Families organization, a mother, a lesbian, a nurse. The topics we spoke about were motherhood, problems and challenges rainbow families face on everyday basis in Serbia, Same-Sex Partnership Law, etc.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us, we all know that during this period you have been quite busy. Tell us what is the biggest challenge for your family right now and how do you deal with it?
If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have said that the biggest challenge in our rainbow family was definitely our immediate and indirect environment and the way in which it will be accepted. As a mother I face everyday challenges, the biggest challenge that is present, it seems, all the time, is keeping our family together and fighting all obstacles that stand in our way, as well as educating our children daily regarding rainbow families.
Currently, the biggest challenge our family faces is that we have not been living together for almost a month. Namely, I isolated myself because I work at the very focus of the epidemic at the Corona Center in the Clinical Center of Vojvodina on an intensive care unit, and I did not want to put Dragana and the children in danger. Dragana has completely taken over the care for the children, and for all of us this is a new situation that we are facing for the first time.
Considering that you live in a rainbow family, what do you think, would the adopting of a Same-Sex Partnership Law significantly change the quality of your life?
This is what we have been hoping for, for years, that we have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples living married or in extra-marital union. Therefore, I believe that adopting the law would be important since it would improve the quality of our lives in many ways. We already have, among other things, laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which are often disrespected, unfortunately. What we must not forget is that there are thousands of same-sex families with children in our country, which are not legally recognized as families. The Law should encompass everything in order to be complete.
This is a question that’s somehow on the minds of majority of rainbow families, as a family, have you considered moving to country where society and the legal framework are more inclined to respect basic human rights and what has kept you in Serbia?
Ha-ha, so somehow the kids think more about it and Dragana also, I am someone who is "stopping the situation" and I honestly would not like to go anywhere from Serbia. I love living here no matter what the situation is, somehow I see no reason to leave, it would mean for me to give up the fight and walk the line of less resistance.
From last year we have The Rainbow Family organization as a newly formed organization in Serbia, tell us more about your goals for the coming period?
At the moment, due to the state of emergency, everything in the whole country and in the region stopped besides psychological support. After the emergency, we plan to continue our activities. One of the biggest challenges is to bring all those families out in the open, since they have been silenced for many years, to empower them, to encourage them, and to educate in order for them to go out and boldly move forward. Among other things, many live in same-sex partnerships with children hiding, not being out, and their families are unaware of it. There is a lot of work and challenges, the topic we are dealing with is quite sensitive and as time goes on we see what is the biggest problem ... of course, social change is slow but we will not give up in our intention to make it better for everyone.
And for the end what is your message to same-sex couples who want to start a family in Serbia and in the region?
Our message is addressed not only to same-sex couples, but to all other NGOs targeting the LGBT+ community to focus more on positive examples and stories on social networks and the activities that are carried out. Talking to people we know, we have realized that the negative content on social media has a strong impact and creates additional fear, which results in closing ourselves within four walls. Most of our contacts or supporters, so to speak, are not engaged in activism, hence do not understand well these topics and the language of the content that should be targeted at them. They find it “too activist-oriented”, so it would be good that together with other organizations we change approach and language so that everyone feels integrated.