Serbia: Anti-Discrimination Law is Adopted

On 13 March 2009 the Serbian government resubmitted the draft anti-discrimination law for the consideration of the National Assembly of Serbia, four days after IGLHRC and ILGA-Europe’s letter urging the Government to do so, and nine days after the draft law had been withdrawn from parliamentary consideration (4 March). Nearly two weeks later, on 26 March, the National Assembly voted by a narrow majority to adopt the anti-discrimination law, officially banning acts of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, among other grounds.

The reintroduction of the draft to the National Assembly’s consideration came as a result of domestic and international pressure to align the domestic law of Serbia with the standards of the European Union.

The present version of the law, which flew in the face of opposition from conservative organizations and the Serbian Orthodox Church, includes prescriptions against the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (in Article 21) and, although similar protections against discrimination on grounds of gender identity were removed from the initial draft, the current text of Article 20 could be interpreted to prohibit discrimination against transgendered individuals. Below are the relevant articles in Serbian and in an English translation (for which the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is responsible). The full texts of the law can be downloaded from the right-hand column.

Article 20: Discrimination on the grounds of gender
Discrimination shall be considered to occur in the case of conduct contrary to the principle of the equality of the genders; that is to say, the principle of observing the equal rights and freedoms of women and men in the political, economic, cultural and other aspects of public, professional, private and family life.

It is forbidden to deny rights or to grant privileges, be it publicly or covertly, pertaining to gender or gender change. It is forbidden to practise physical violence, exploitation, express hatred, disparagement, blackmail and harassment pertaining to gender, as well as to publicly advocate, support and practise conduct in keeping with prejudices, customs and other social models of behaviour based on the idea of gender inferiority or superiority; that is, the stereotyped roles of the genders.

Article 21: Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation
Sexual orientation shall be a private matter, and no one may be called to publicly declare his/her sexual orientation.

Everyone shall have the right to declare his/her sexual orientation, and discriminatory treatment on account of such a declaration shall be forbidden.


Član 20: Diskriminacija na osnovu pola
Diskriminacija postoji ako se postupa protivno načelu ravnopravnosti polova, odnosno načelu poštovanja jednakih prava i sloboda žena i muškaraca u političkom, ekonomskom, kulturnom i drugom aspektu javnog, profesionalnog, privatnog i porodičnog života.

Zabranjeno je uskraćivanje prava ili javno ili prikriveno priznavanje pogodnosti u odnosu na pol ili zbog promene pola. Zabranjeno je i fizičko i drugo nasilje, eksploatacija, izražavanje mržnje, omalovažavanje, ucenjivanje i uznemiravanje s obzirom na pol, kao i javno zagovaranje, podržavanje i postupanje u skladu sa predrasudama, običajima i drugim društvenim obrascima ponašanja koji su zasnovani na ideji podređenosti ili nadređenosti polova, odnosno stereotipnih uloga polova.

Član 21: Diskriminacija na osnovu seksualne orijentacije
Seksualna orijentacija je privatna stvar i niko ne može biti pozvan da se javno izjasni o svojoj seksualnoj orijentaciji.

Svako ima pravo da se izjasni o svojoj seksualnoj orijentaciji, a diskriminatorsko postupanje zbog takvog izjašnjavanja je zabranjeno.