Serbian Prime Minister has done nothing to protect herself from discrimination

Author: Jovanka Todorović, Gayten LGBT

Belgrade, 14 March 2019 - News that the two women became mothers of a boy, polarized the general public in Serbia. What are the questions being open in time with this joyful news? 

Social distance towards LGBTIQ people in Serbia is extremely high: 78% of respondents of the survey conducted by the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality did not want LGBTIQ people to be their bosses, friends, neighbours or family members. LGBTIQ people continue to suffer discrimination, and in often cases, violence. Same-sex partnerships are not legally recognized. In vitro fertilization is not allowed to women without a partner and/or to lesbian partners. Surrogate motherhood is illegal, while adoption by a single parent (regardless of sex) though not explicitly forbidden, is almost impossible in practice.

Having in mind these circumstances, the question is:  how do same-sex couples even become parents in this country? Female couples can and often do go to a sperm bank outside of Serbia, as there is no such possibility in the country. The woman who gives birth to a child is treated as a single mother, while her partner has no rights at all. All of the parental rights of the biological mother's partner are defined by the biological mother and depend on her good will. If they break up, partner does not legally have any parental rights. Male couples most often resort to surrogate motherhood beyond the borders of our country, where they're buying egg cell, and then, biological fathers are treated as single fathers.

Ever since she became a Prime Minister and up to this date, Ms. Ana Brnabic seemed not to be sharing the problems of the LGBTIQ community, which she belongs to. Now, however, it turns out that this is no longer the case. Though the financial position of Prime Minister is far much better than the position of any other LGBT person living in Serbia, Ms. Brnabic is still nobody to little Igor from the legal point of view. Nothing more than a babysitter or neighbour. She will not be allowed to take care of him in a hospital in case of diseases. Her name, as a second parent, cannot be written in his birth certificate.  And this is why today, more than ever, the Prime Minister has a moral obligation to regulate parental rights for all people who encounter obstacles.

Demands are clear:

– Legalize same-sex partnerships in Serbia in accordance with the needs of the citizens living or planning to live in such communities, as well as following a judgment of the European Court of human rights from 2017 in the case of Orlandi and others vs. Italy. The verdict ruled the Council of Europe Member States need to legalize a form of Same-Sex Union in a way that is tailored to the specific conditions of each country. Legal gaps in this area are considered unacceptable;

– Legalize surrogate motherhood;

– Facilitate adoption procedures;

Until full regulation of those issues, we will have citizens who do not have an equal parental rights, kids who are second class citizens, and a Prime Minister who faces discrimination by her own will.

With wishes for Igor to be an equal citizen, I congratulate the birth the baby. 

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Note* Article has been published with the permission of the author.