Serbian politician convicted of gay hate speech

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

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Belgrade. A court in Belgrade condemned a controversial Serbian ruling party member of parliament for discriminatory remarks about homosexuals, a gay organisation said Wednesday, cited by AFP.
"The court decided that Dragan Markovic committed a serious act of discrimination and ordered him not to repeat it again," Aleksandar Olenik, a lawyer representing Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), told AFP.
The court did not impose any sentence or fine on Markovic although he was ordered to pay the trial costs.
In August, Markovic said he was against a planned march of gays in Belgrade "where they want to show something that is an illness as something normal".
His comments came during tense preparations for a gay pride parade scheduled to be held in Belgrade October 2 but ultimately banned by the police due to security concerns.
A number of ultranationalist groups had announced they planned to disrupt the march.
The GSA, one of several gay rights groups active in Serbia, said in a statement it was "satisfied with the verdict and fast reaction by the justice system."
"This case has a strategic importance because this is the first time such a verdict is issued against a politician," the group said.
It added that "such remarks should be sanctioned by the judiciary because politicians have the highest responsibility for promoting tolerance, a democratic society, non-violence and respect for human rights."
The first gay pride in Belgrade in 2001 was smashed by hooligans, while another attempt to hold a march in 2009 was cancelled by organisers when police barred them from from the city centre because of security concerns.
In 2010, the gay pride was held but violent riots followed. More than 150 people, mostly police officers, were wounded in clashes between security forces and ultra-nationalists and hooligans.

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