"They are often afraid to lose their family, job, friends and therefore there should be a dialogue created with the representatives of institutions, employers and citizens in order to accelerate the process of creating a positive atmosphere in the society through education and breaking stereotypes and prejudice."
An activist for the protection of human and LGBT rights and the future coordinator for the upcoming Network for gay rights in Subotica, Jelena Dubovi, stated today that the biggest problem for the members of this community is invisibility because they do not have enough confidence, courage and support from the society and the institutions in order for them to accept themselves.
"The LGBT community is simply not visible. Members of this community do not feel enough confidence and courage to accept themselves. It is not only the society’s and institutions’ fault for the state we are in right now, but also the members of the gay community are to blame, and sometimes we can also talk about the problem and cowardice of individuals”, said Dubovi for the portal Magločistač.
She said that rights are not that easy to gain, and that they need to be fought for through dialogue and in a civilized manner, which implies the need for visibility of the LGBT community itself.
"They often fear the loss of family, work, friends and therefore there should be a dialogue with the representatives of institutions, employers, citizens to the process of creating a positive atmosphere in the company could accelerate with education and breaking the stereotypes and prejudices," said Dubovi.
"They are often afraid to lose their family, job, friends and therefore there should be a dialogue created with the representatives of institutions, employers and citizens in order to accelerate the process of creating a positive atmosphere in the society through education and breaking stereotypes and prejudice.", stated Dubovi.
Mid- November of 2016, The Ministry of State Administration and Local Government joined the project "Network Change for Serbia`s LGBT Community", following the initiative of the Organization for lesbian human rights Labris and Atina. The networks will be established in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Subotica, Novi Pazar, Niš, Kragujevac and Pančevo and the coordinator of the Network in Subotica, which will be established by the end of the year, will be Jelena Dubovi.
In the previous period, according to Jelena, meetings were held with representatives of local governments - Deputy Ombudsman in Subotica, representatives of the police, prosecutors' office, educational institutions, high school students, the Institute of Public Health, journalists and representatives of civil society - and the results were positive.
"Although there is no policy regarding the LGBT population in Subotica, the reactions were absolutely positive and there is a noticeable step forwards when it comes to understanding the problem and the existence of the gay community in Subotica, in general. We will try to make the Network sustainable so it can keep existing after the project is completed.”, said Dubovi.
The media is dominated by negative comments, and the laws are discriminatory
She pointed out that the public opinion is generally not positive in relation to the LGBT community and that discrimination and hatred us evident in the comments to some media articles dealing with this subject, and certain national councils, the right-wing political parties and their supporters as well as football fan groups are not supportive of this social group.
"The loudest are those who do not support gay people and their hatred towards the members of this community is expressed in different ways. It is enough to open a media article on this topic and you will see that most of the comments are full of hatred, condemnation and discrimination. ", said Dubovi.
She added that the problem are also some laws that restrict the rights and freedoms of this community.
"The laws do not allow us to live the way we want to and because of that we cannot live completely freely, we cannot start a family nor be in an extra-marital partnership or marriage. I cannot live completely free with my fiancée as everyone else does because our system is putting limits on us. ", she pointed out.
She also stated that the majority of members of this community are faced with much worse problems such as harassment because of their sexual orientation.
"I personally know a woman who was raped because she is gay, because, my Goodness, in that way she will be 'cured'.", said Dubovi.
She believes that it is important for people to accept who they are and not be ashamed of that, because not a single member of this community should be ostracized, but "it often happens that members of the LGBT community exclude themselves from society".
"It's a very a personal matter of every individual, a process, but I would certainly advise them to believe in and love themselves. It is not a problem to seek professional help but the most important thing still is to talk to yourself. They can take a pen and paper and write down everything negative that can happen, and ask themselves if that is worth living in slavery and living a lie. ", said Dubovi.
When asked what was the worst and the best thing that happened to her in her lifetime, she said the worst thing she has experienced were death threats, and the best experience is when people accept her as she is and treat her as a person with the same rights as anyone else.
"Discrimination and hatred are being reduced and I now live quite normally without any particular problems. I get very surprised when people ask me to imagine my life in the future, what will be the next steps for me and my fiancé, are we getting married, where will be the location of the wedding, what is the legislation regarding this topic etc. And this is actually normal, because this is a way in which people would approach any straight couple which just got engaged. ", stated Dubovi.
She added that sometimes her inbox is full of stories of unknown people, who have decided to accept themselves and to talk about that with their families and friends, and that most of these stories are positive, but there are also negative cases.
"After outing yourself, rejection from family and friends often occurs, but it is often only necessary to take time for the parents and the environment to accept the state of affairs. Many years passed before I was ready to talk with my mother about my life and today we openly talk about everything, in the presence of my fiancée.", said Dubovi.
According to her, parents who abandon their children because they are gay, "are not people nor parents," and that "the problem is not in the gay person who told their parents who they are, but the problem is in that parent who is unable to accept it ".
"What kind of parent is willing to reject their child because of sexual orientation? Such a parent does not love their child enough. If you love someone, that one line, one bubble in a bunch of balloons will not play a role in changing your mind about your own child just because of their sexual orientation which is different from your own. "
The project “Network Change for Serbia`s LGBT Community” is coordinated by Labris with financial support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The project is being implemented in Subotica by the civil society organization Stav plus.