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Yugoslavia: Update to YUG35962.E of 11 December 2000 on the treatment of homosexuals and lesbians

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 16 December 2002
Citation / Document Symbol YUG40375.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Yugoslavia: Update to YUG35962.E of 11 December 2000 on the treatment of homosexuals and lesbians, 16 December 2002, YUG40375.E, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to a report by the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), Yugoslavia had no visible homosexual community in 2000, which was interpreted by ILGA as being "a sure sign of a high degree of oppression" (16 Feb. 2000). The Gay Serbia Website noted as well that the "[g]ay scene in Serbia is ... almost non-existent" with only one gay bar nation-wide (2001). According to the "underground gay rights group" Gayrilla, despite political reforms since October 2000, "nothing ha[s] been done to improve homosexual rights" in Serbia (AFP 8 Dec. 2002).

The Agence France Presse (AFP) report indicates that the estimated size of Serbia's gay population is 10% or "600,000 gay voters" (ibid.). In addition to Gayrilla, two other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations are reported in Yugoslavia, including the lesbian rights group Labris (Tanjug 30 June 2001a; The Gully 23 July 2001; Radio B92 27 June 2002) and the Center for the Promotion and Development of LGBT Human Rights (Gayten-LGBT) (The Gully 23 July 2001). In addition, Belgrade Radio 202 introduced the "first-ever GLBT show in Serbia" in July 2001 (Lavender Magazine 10 Mar. 2002).

After a widely reported 30 June 2001 attack on Serbia's first gay pride parade, prominent Serbian writer and filmmaker Jasmina Tesanovic stated that "homophobia has run rampant in Serbia, strengthened by war and nationalism" (The Gully 5 July 2001b). According to reports, 40 civilians and eight police officers were injured (ibid. 23 July 2001; AI 13 July 2001; ibid. 2002). Perpetrators of the attack were identified by Milan Djuric, a coordinator of Gayten-LGBT, and one of the organizers of the parade as members of the Serbian "extremist Christian organizations" Obraz and Justin, the Parents' Forum, representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church, soccer fans and skinheads (The Gully 23 July 2001). An Amnesty International report of the event described the attack as follows:

At around 3.00 pm on 30 June 2001, just as the Gay Pride Celebration was about to start, a crowd of around 1,000 - mainly men - appeared in the Trg Republike (Republic Square) in Belgrade. People in this counter-demonstration reportedly waved national and Radical Party flags, and carried placards bearing homophobic slogans, some inciting violence against lesbians and gay men. Organizations alleged to be present at the counter-demonstration include the Parent's Forum, members of the Obraz movement, representatives of the Serbian orthodox church, football supporters and skinheads thought to be members of the group "Krv i cast" (Blood and Honour).

Members of the counter-demonstration allegedly ran forward shouting homophobic slogans and attacked some of the young men attending the gay pride demonstration. Other demonstrators, members of the public - including a 70-year old woman -, journalists and the police were attacked with fists, bottles, eggs, stones and clubs. A police officer was reportedly hit on the head with a rock. Only when a group of around 100 men ran towards the march near the army centre building did the police attempt to block them by firing into the air (13 July 2001).

According to reports, Belgrade police failed to protect participants from assault (ibid.; ibid. 2002), deploying only 50 police without riot gear (The Gully 5 July 2001a) even after certain groups made public their intentions to break up the celebration (ibid.; ILGA-Europe 2 July 2001; IGLHRC 3 July 2001). Eyewitnesses did note however that the police's response to the attack, while belated, provided protection and that police made some arrests (Tanjug 30 June 2001b; The Gully 23 July 2001; ibid. 5 July 2001a; ibid. 5 July 2001b).

Reportedly, the Belgrade police chief stated to Serbian radio that "[a]s a society, we are not mature enough to accept such demonstrations of perversity" (ibid. 5 July 2001a) and questioned whether the police should be required to protect such participants from attack (AI 13 July 2001). Similar statements are attributed to Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in the wake of the 30 June 2001 attack (ibid.). A 2 July 2001 Radio B92 report quoted Djindjic as stating: "it is too early to stand [the parade's] test of tolerance in a country that has been in isolation for so long, and which has had a repressive patriarchal culture. ... This is the highest level of tolerance, and I am afraid it will take some time to reach it."

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 8 December 2002. Alexandra Niksic. "Serbia's 'Gayrillas' Fight for Their Rights." (ProLog) [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

Amnesty International (AI). 2002. Annual Report 2002. [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

_____. 13 July 2001. "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: Lesbian and Gay Rights Are Human Rights." (AI Index: EUR 70/016/2001.) [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

Gay Serbia. 2001. "Gay Scene." [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

The Gully [New York]. 23 July 2001. Milan Djuric. "Under Attack in Yugoslavia: Gay Rights and Democracy." [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

_____. 5 July 2001a. Ana Simo. "Violence Stops Yugoslavia Gay Pride." [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

_____. 5 July 2001b. Jasmina Tesanovic. "Why Gays Got Attacked in Belgrade." [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). 3 July 2001. "Break Up of First Gay Pride Parade." [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

International Lesbian and Gay Association - Europe (ILGA-Europe). 2 July 2001. "ILGA-Europe Calls on Serbian Authorities to Guarantee Safety and Freedom of Associations for LGBT People." [Accessed 13 Dec. 2002]

_____. 16 February 2000. "Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Persons in Europe." [Accessed 13 Dec. 2002]

Lavender Magazine [Minneapolis]. 10 March 2002. Karen Louise Boothe. "Radio Gays: New Voices from the Old World." (Gay Serbia). [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

Radio B92 [Belgade, in Serbian]. 27 June 2002. "Program Summary: Belgrade Radio B92 Serbo-Croatian 1500 GMT 27 June 2002." (FBIS-EEU-2002-0627 27 June 2002/WNC)

_____. 2 July 2001. "Serbia Not Ready for Tolerance: Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic." (Gay Serbia) [Accessed 16 Dec. 2002]

Tanjug [Belgrade, in English]. 30 June 2001a. "Serbia: 'Revolted Opponents' Attack Participants in Gay Parade in Belgrade." (FBIS-EEU-2001-0630 30 June 2001/WNC)

_____. 30 June 2001b. "Serbia: Eight Persons Injured in Violence Caused by Opponents of Gay Parade." (FBIS-EEU-0630 30 June 2001/WNC)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Internet sites including:

European Country of Origin Information Network

Gay Yugoslavia (

Radio B92

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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