LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey
The transition from an authoritarian political environment and closed market economy to all that the European Union (EU) stands for has been a long process that started two decades ago in Serbia, after the victory of the Democratic opposition. Following the EU – Western Balkans summit in Thessaloniki in 2003, the accession of Serbia to the EU became an inevitable and irreversible process. Moreover, it became the major instrument for reconciliation in a region which had gone through a turbulent decade of wars, ethnic conflicts and economic and societal crises, and a path leading towards respect for human rights and the rule of law for everyone. This process has not, however, been without obstacles and it has not yet been completed.
Within this period, the position of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons has changed drastically. The EU accession process has indeed served as an anchor for reforms when it comes to the human rights protection of LGBTI persons, who have finally been recognised as part of Serbian society, and a human rights framework providing protection from discrimination and violence and guaranteeing freedom of peaceful assembly has been set up to ensure that they are treated equally.
However, just as Serbia’s EU accession process remains an on-going process, so does the achievement of equality for LGBTI persons in Serbian society, and this is no easy task. Serbia is still on the way to treating LGBTI persons as fully equal members of society and, among other things, lacks legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, legal gender recognition based on self-determination, with no legal recognition of same-sex families or intersex persons in any law or policy.