The Serbian Anti-discrimination law is adopted

26/03/2009

Today the National Assembly of Serbia has adopted a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, banning discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or other factors.

The law was part of reforms intended to align the national laws and policies with EU acquis and to fill the gaps identified by the European Commission’s 2008 progress report on Serbia “A comprehensive anti-discrimination law has not yet been adopted. In practice, there is still widespread discrimination, primarily against national minorities, Roma or women as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people."

Earlier this month, on March 4, 2009 the draft anti-discrimination law was withdrawn from parliamentary consideration due to pressure from the Serbian Orthodox Church and other religious groups. The main opposition from the religious community to the draft law related to Article 21, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In response to the withdrawal of the law from parliamentary consideration, ILGA-Europe addressed a letter to the Government of Serbia urging it to put the current draft anti-discrimination law back on the agenda in the National Assembly without changing the provisions prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as on all other grounds.

ILGA-Europe has also raised the issue with the relevant bodies in the European Parliament and the European Commission to ensure that the Government and the National Assembly of Serbia adopt the current draft anti-discrimination law maintaining non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

On March 13, 2009 the Government has resubmitted the law to the National Assembly with certain amendments but without significantly altering non-discrimination provisions on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the current version of the law sexual orientation is specifically mentioned as a ground of non-discrimination in Article 21. A clause prohibiting discrimination on the ground of gender identity was removed from Article 21 but an alternative clause prohibiting discrimination against transsexuals was added in Article 20, regulating gender discrimination issues.

Other sources:

The Associated Press article

The Herald Tribune Europe article

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