In recent days, the Prime Minister (PM) and his deputy demonstrated an exceptional skill for hindering the Pride parade. First, the PM demonstrated his coherent homophobia in front of both the domestic and foreign public, followed by his deputy, who spiced up his homophobic slurs by boldly labeling the members of the LGBT community as abnormal. Not having the Rapporteur of the European Parliament close by, the PM also took the opportunity to threaten the potential Pride participants – what can they hope for and what kind of an understanding can they expect, he wondered out loud, when last year they dared to portray Jesus as a homosexual and in this way insult the religious feelings of the majority in Serbia. So, it turns out that the Rapporteur rushed with his unreasonable praise of the government: should he have found himself closer to the PM and had he the opportunity to hear his diagnosis, the Rapporteur would have, I presume, bitten his tongue before speaking about significant improvements in attitudes towards the LGBT community in Serbia.
So, let Rapporteur report to those who sent him here, while we reflect on what would be the effects, and what could be said about our society, if Pride was actually to be held this Saturday. The PM has made it clear that Pride will be allowed to take place only in case of significant pressure from the EU. If this does not occur, both the PM and his deputy have made it clear – there will be no Pride. And the reason for this is that Pride is not normal and, being abnormal, it is threatening the feelings of otherwise normal Serbian citizens who are – apart from members of the Democratic Party – all god fearing Christians, pious, virtuous and family loving people. After all, gays and lesbians already have all the rights they need and it is absolutely incomprehensible, as the PM would ask, why would anyone wish to demonstrate their abnormality for everyone to see?
I wouldn’t be asking here if the PM and his deputy will ever realize that taking legal measures against discrimination is only the prerequisite for achieving complete equality of the members of an oppressed group. In the past few days, both of them demonstrated that neither the Constitution or the existing laws oblige them to respect the dignity and rights of the LGBT community, which the PM without hesitation calls abnormal – something likely seen by his deputy as a striking illustration of non-hypocritical behaviour, i.e. a great example of political integrity and consistency. The fact that this only represents integrity and consistency in infringing on constitutional and basic human rights does not bother them – both of them became experts in violating legislation during the 1990s. Therefore, that these two will most likely never understand that Parade’s aim is to demonstrate that members of the LGBT community are people like others, nothing more or less normal than the rest.
One of Pride’s key intents is also to provide those that do not belong to the LGBT community an opportunity to publicly express their solidarity with this group. Both the PM and his deputy fear that they will be recognized as homosexuals should they show up at the parade. To tell them that being black or Roma is not a requirement to stand up for those being discriminated against because of their skin colour, and that people who march with gays are not necessarily homosexuals but rather individuals who are sufficiently compassionate and able to relate to the suffering of those that are labeled as abnormal, seems like a futile exercise. It is unusual though that, over the last three decades, neither the PM or his deputy were offended when “Serbs” were presented as tormented and crucified, but they do have a problem when someone compares the suffering of homosexuals in Serbia, in a visually convincing way, with that of Jesus. It is not my intent to shock them with various interpretations of the relationship between Jesus and his disciples, since this would likely be too arduous for their gentle manly ears. What is confusing, though, is the confidence with which the PM talks about the sexual preferences of Jesus – it would be nice to know his sources.
But ultimately, what is much more important here than the PM and his vice, are the lessons that the LGBT community can draw from the years of experience in organizing the Pride parade. Is reliance on support from abroad and bargaining with authorities really the only way to reach equality and acceptance in this society? Maybe it is time to think about other ways of organizing and seeking new allies? Even if Pride was to happen on Saturday, after what has been said openly in the last couple of days, it will be because of a whim of two political thugs who were scared by threats made by an even bigger bully – which has nothing to do with human rights.
Dejan Ilić (1965, Zemun), urednik izdavačke kuće FABRIKA KNJIGA i časopisa REČ. Diplomirao je na Filološkom fakultetu u Beogradu, magistrirao na Programu za studije roda i kulture na Centralnoevropskom univerzitetu u Budimpešti i doktorirao na istom univerzitetu na Odseku za rodne studije. Objavio je zbirke eseja „Osam i po ogleda iz razumevanja“ (2008), „Tranziciona pravda i tumačenje književnosti: srpski primer“ (2011), „Škola za 'petparačke' priče: predlozi za drugačiji kurikulum“ (2016) i „Dva lica patriotizma“ (2016).