No Improvement on Reporting on LGBT Issues in Serbia PDF Print

Published: 14 January 2013

Country: Serbia

lgbt_serbiaLesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) in Serbia barely get any media attention if it is not a debate over Pride parade, piece of sensational news or a press release. There is no discussion on same-sex marriage or the legal right for adopting the children. Media rarely report on issues related to the LGBT community in Serbia such as the terminology used to describe its members, their invisibility in media, legislation and (in) tolerance towards them and their sexual orientation.

Last week though, almost all media did report on LGBT community after Serbian court has delivered the first-ever verdict on discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace. The court has ordered the convicted to pay amend for causing mental pain and for violating the personal rights, reputation and honour of his colleague. It is an important step for Serbian society on a path of fully respected human and individual rights no matter how poorly they were reported in media.

After the piece of news was released by Gay straight Alliance (GSA), the NGO that describes its mission as the one for defending human rights of all citizens of Serbia, especially LGBT, all media reported it the same day. The fact that media hasn’t ignored the news is a step forward, but the way some media reported it is another step backward.

While some of the media stressed ‘The first LGBT court victory’, the most popular on-line newspapers in Serbia used the same derogative words as used by convicted. Situation in general, beside the positive fact that the event was reported by all media, shows the tendency toward both  sensational journalism illustrated in headline of one of the tabloids ‘Money for gay’ and effort to be responsible enough not to ignore the news. In both cases, the real importance of the news on first-ever verdict for the discrimination based on sexual orientation in a workplace, has been lost and not visible for the audience.

Part of the media did not include the statement of the offended in on-line report, let alone the print. In this case the right of LGBT community to be heard has been restricted once again. The degree of homophobia in Serbia is high and LGBT population still struggles for its basic rights. Media in general, with exceptions and examples of positive practice, ignore their responsibility and fail to properly represent society and to be inclusive. LGBT community, like many other minority groups, is portrayed poorly with the stereotypes, prejudice and fear.

The verdict of Serbian court could have been used to familiarise audience with LGBT community and the problems they face in Serbia. Except Radio Free Europe no one has followed the feature tackling these issues.

It seems that media learned that they cannot ignore such issues completely, and LGBT community is in slow pace gaining media attention, not always as positive, but there is much more work to be done. Serbian media still have to learn much about fairness, impartiality and inclusive representation of society.