Debate Pride Parade and Politics

Cultural Center REX

26. 02. 2013 14:00

Debate on the ideological and political implications of organizing the Belgrade Pride Parade and the opposition to it

The debate will examine intentional or unintentional, universally intelligible or still unknown ideological implications of different forms of activist practice and positions regarding the Pride Parade. These issues were detected, at several meetings and debates held in Belgrade throughout last year, as part of Queer Studies at the Centre for Cultural Decontamination and Media Centre, as being potentially crucial too for further public positioning and articulation of policies and strategies active or activated in relation to the Pride Parade. Such issues have not been examined carefully enough, either in the activist circles or by the wider public in Serbia.
Invited speakers: Mirjana Bogdanović (Gay Straight Alliance), Dušan Maljković (Queer Studies), Goran Miletić (Human Rights Defenders) and Biljana Stanković Lori (NLO). All speeches and analyses will be published on the website of the project and in the printed form after the project has ended.

The debate belongs to the Crossroads East West intercultural dialogue programme, implemented as part of Engine Room Europe, a three-year project carried out by cultural Centre REX/B92 Fund together with 11 European cultural centres, The project focuses on independent cultural workers and their field of activity and its main aim is to enhance the capacity and sustainability of independent culture in Europe. The project Engine Room Europe is carried out with the support of the European Commission.

The debate is held also as part of the talks programmes at Cultural Centre REX. It is organized with the support of the Fund for an Open Society, and the programme line of intercultural dialogues is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Serbia.

Speakers:

Mirjana Bogdanović, The Position of the Pride Parade in the Political Sphere in Serbia
Since the issue of the Pride Parade has become topical, it keeps attracting the attention of the general public and the social and political elite alike and opening many questions to which there are no right answers or the answers are being passed over in silence. From the point of view of someone who led the process of organizing the 2010 Pride Parade and was in charge of negotiating with the institutions and developing the security strategy of the event, in my speech, I would like to place special emphasis on the position of the Pride Parade in the political sphere. I will also attempt to answer some of the questions, such as whether that event is a political issue and if so to what extent, whether and to what degree political support is important for its taking place, whether the Pride Parade "belongs" to one organization, one ideology, one city...? What is the purpose of the Pride Parade and is it the most suitable tool in the fight for LGBT rights or a goal in itself? Is there a point where the responsibility of the state ends and that of the organizers begins?

Goran Miletić, Respecting the Rights of Members of the LGBT Community in Serbia 2008-2013
Over the last five years, the issues of respecting the rights of members of the LGBT community in Serbia has been discussed more than ever before. Although homosexuality was decriminalized in 1994, it took no less than another fifteen years for the LGBT community to be granted adequate legal protection and for the fight for observing these laws to begin. Where are we today and how much time will it take to win some new battles?

Dušan Maljković, Pride Parade, Yes, But What Kind of Event and Whose Event Should it Be?
The recent message of the European Commission in which it insists that the Pride Parade should be organized opens several questions. First, who should be the main factor in making the Pride Parade happen - should it be Belgrade, Brussels or the LGBT community itself? Moreover, the question is what kind of Pride Parade this third mentioned party wants and whether it wants it in the first place, which is the key justification for this kind of protest. If the majority of the population thinks that it should not be held, we must ask ourselves who has the right to fight for certain collective rights that affect the entire community, when it does not support that course of action. Finally, should the term Pride Parade be used at all, namely, how should it be conceived in relation to politics and in terms of symbols, so as to avoid "pink washing"* and "homonationalism"** i.e. prevent a scenario in which the Pride Parade itself simply becomes an activity targeted at a specific group, carried out as part of a neoliberal agenda that the group in question agrees to and replicates.
*State pro-LGBT policy that in fact conceals some other form of discrimination (e.g. class-based discrimination).
** Mainstream LGBT community's voluntary support of the nationalist state policy.

Biljana Stanković Lori, The Status of the LGBT Population and LGBT Activism in Serbia Today - a Lesbian Activist's Point of View
Fear, trauma, running away, hiding, lies, anxiety/violence, power, manipulation, blackmail, exclusion, discrimination and the rest in the policies inside and outside the LGBT movement.

Boban Stojanović, Pride Between Utopia and Hysteria

The poll conducted by IPSOS just before the 2012 Pride Parade shows that this event is the only one opening a broad debate on the position and rights of the LGBTTIQ community in Serbia. At the same time, the Pride Parade event, its context and strategies are in the focus of interest of a narrow circle of people, describing it from their own subjective perspective - from expressing certainty that activist efforts will end in success, which, in turn, brings about romantic evocations of Stonewall, to achieving positions that become the gauge of success, created by the institutionalization and bureaucratization of the idea of human rights. The Pride Parade in Serbia, a country/society that finds it hard to find its place in the dominant strategies of the contemporary society in terms of culture, politics and ideology is one of the rare clear indicators of the eclectic nature of human rights and freedom. Do those involved in the activities of a decent society, both members of alternative movements and the ones close to the institutional framework contemplate the idea of the Pride Parade and what are their views? Has our society undergone the processes that would create the preconditions necessary for acceptance of the Pride Parade and for its running its course unimpeded? The Pride Parade as denial and part of the culture of oblivion? How are minority and majority opinions accepted and how are these two opposites perceived? Is it possible to decentralize Pride and move it away from one's own ego and share its mission with the widest possible audience? Should the Pride Parade in Serbia be contemplated in a closed or rather in an open context?


Moderator: Jelena Veljić (participant in the Faculty of Philosophy Plenum and member of the Učitelj neznalica (The Ignorant Schoolmaster) collective.

Guests from the region: Tatjana Greif (Slovenia), Nataša Sukič (Slovenia), Stanimir Panayotov (Bulgaria)

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Mirjana Bogdanović is the executive director and one of the founders of Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). She was born in 1974 in Kruševac. At GSA, she focused on the organization's development strategy and is a member of its executive board. She has coordinated the majority of GSA projects related to the implementation of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination and reduction of violence towards members of the LGBT community. She is a lobbyist and creator of GSA's political strategy. She was a member of the organizing committee of the 2010 Pride Parade in charge of negotiating with the institutions and developing the security strategy of the event. She was a member of the Working Group for Improving Freedom of Association founded by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and the Working Group Drafting the National Anti-Discrimination Strategy, in the segment related to the rights of the LGBT population, founded by the government Office for Human and Minority Rights. Mirjana was Regional Development Director of the NGO Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR). She was also Secretary General of the Civic Alliance of Serbia (CAS, GSS), and a member of the presidency of that political party. In the mid-1990s, she was the manager of and participant in many democratization campaigns conducted by political organizations or the non-governmental sector.

Goran Miletić has a masters degree from the Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade (Serbia) and a European Regional MA in Democracy and Human Rights (joint programme of the University of Sarajevo and the University of Bologna). He previously worked at the Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) in Belgrade (Serbia). During his work at HLC, Miletić's focus was mainly on minority rights, including the rights of Roma, Albanians and Bosniaks. His work included monitoring both freedom from torture and prohibition of discrimination. That involved advocacy and lobbying activities as well as representing victims before Serbian courts. Goran Miletić started working for Civil Rights Defenders (the former Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights) in 2004 as Programme Officer and later Human Rights Lawyer for the Western Balkans. In the course of his work, he was particularly engaged in drafting inclusive anti-discrimination legislation in the Western Balkan countries and lobbying for its adoption. He was a member of the Organizing Committee of 2011-2013 Belgrade Pride Parade, fully dedicated to working with government institutions and the international community during the preparation of this event. He is a member of the European Commission of Sexual Orientation Law (ECSOL) and the administrative board of Heartefact Fund. At the moment, he is finalizing his Ph.D. thesis on the protection of marginalized groups in civil proceedings at Union University Law School in Belgrade.

Dušan Maljković (1975) has a BA degree in philosophy. He is also a journalist and translator who completed Women's and Same-Sex Studies. He published numerous theory-oriented and literary works in the country and abroad. He was the editor of Kontrabunt  the first homoerotic book series at the RENDE (GRATER) publishing house, as well as of the international award-winning show  Gayming  broadcast on Radio Belgrade 202 and the first local non-straight website Gay-Serbia.com. He has authored or contributed to numerous artistic projects and projects in the domain of human rights. He is an occasional contributor to the website b92.net, Radio Belgrade Three and NIN Magazine. He is the editor-contributor at the Karpos publishing house and a member of the advisory board of Novi plamen (New Flame) Magazine. He is currently coordinating a queer studies seminar at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade. Moreover, he is the editor of the journal for queer theory and culture QT and a member of the Association of Literary Translators of Serbia who has the status of an independent cultural worker.

Biljana Stanković Lori was born in Novi Sad in 1974. She obtained s a degree in Serbian language and literature in 1999. The same year she also graduated from the Centre for Women's Studies and Research alternative studies "Mileva Marić Einstein", her final degree project being FENS Feminist Theatre. The collision of activism and art in her work has resulted in the creation of another feminist, and lesbian, theatre group, ACT Women. Her research in bodies, voices, movement and rhythm as part of the female and lesbian identity led to her setting up the Inner Rhythms theatre workshop. Since 1997, Biljana's activism has been built through feminist radical lesbian policies. Her activist choices are made in a patriarchal, discriminatory and nationalist country called Serbia. She is currently a coordinator in Novi Sad Lesbian Organization (NLO), educating others on the issues of coming-out and homophobia, among other things. Biljana is a member of several international and regional feminist networks; she started out by joining the Balkan "Oral history" team. She lives in Novi Sad with her dog Lena and rides a red bicycle.  

Boban Stojanović is a long-time peace and gay activist. He was born in 1978 in Zaječar. He was active in the organization Women in Black, worked at the Reconstruction Women's Fund, coordinated the Anti-Trafficking Centre men's group. He is a senior lecturer at the Helsinki Committee Human Rights School. Moreover, he used to lecture at the New Policy School (YIHR). Boban Stojanović is the executive director of the LGBT organization Queeria - Centre for Promoting the Culture of Non-Violence and Equality. His articles have been published in the following magazines, newspapers and journals: Vreme, Status, Playboy, Danas, Borba, Zeničke sveske (...). He also writes a column for the pescanik.net web portal. He is currently the executive director of Queeria Centre, one of the leading LGBT organizations in Serbia. He participated in organizing the Pride Parade 2004 - 2013. Stojanović is one of the initiators of the Pride Week event, the only sustainable segment of the Belgrade Pride Parade. He was the coordinator and PR manager of numerous campaigns, some of which gained an international reputation, becoming examples of good practice for successfully promoting LGBT rights.

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Stanimir Panayotov (1982, Bulgaria) graduated from the University of Sofia majoring in philosophy. He holds an M.A. in Philosophy and Gender Studies from the Euro-Balkan Institute (Macedonia). His research interests and published work are centred on issues in the feminist and continental philosophy, queer theory and gender studies. He is also a free-lance translator who translated numerous articles from these fields (Sedgwick, Fuss, Butler, A. Rich, etc.), and books by Peter Berger, Wendy Brown, Jasna Koteska, and David M. Halperin (forthcoming). He has also been involved in numerous projects in Bulgaria, Macedonia and beyond related to queer issues and contributed to various projects and organizations as a queer activist. He is also a member of the following collectives: Haspel Social Center, New Left Perspectives and European Alternatives - Sofia.

Tatjana Greif holds a Ph.D. in archaeology. For over 15 years she has been active in the Slovenian and international GLBT movement. She is the coordinator of Lesbian Section ŠKUC-LL, editor of specialized book series Vizibilija and the Journal for Critique of Science, Imagination and New Anthropology. She served as a member of the executive board of ILGA-Europe (1998-2005), a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (2004 -2006) and was a member of the Governmental Committee for Equal Opportunities (2005-2010). In 2007, she was nominated for the position of the national Ombudsman for Human Rights. She is active as researcher, theorist and author  of articles in the field of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, human rights and non-discrimination. She published over 500 theory-oriented and journalistic articles. In 2009/2010, she was a Fulbright Scholar in the USA.

Nataša Sukič is a long-time LGBT activist, witter and journalist, co-founder of the ŠKUC-LL lesbian association. Sekcija ŠKUC LL was the first lesbian group in the former Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe, founded in 1987 in Ljubljana. She was also a co-founder of the legendary Roza Disko at Klub K4 in Ljubljana and the first female DJ. Nataša Sukič is deeply involved in various areas of LGBT activism, from education, art, cultural and multimedia programs to political activism, media and community building.

She is the editor of the Radio Študent show Lesbomania and the first editor of the Škuc book series Vizibilija. Her literary work has received great attention of the critics, both her short fiction: Otroci nočnih rož (Children of Night Flowers) (2008) and  Desperadosi in nomadi (Desperados and Nomads) (2005), and novels Molji živijo v prahu (Moths Live in the Dust) (2010) and Kino (Cinema) 2013. In 2010, she was nominated for the Dnevnikova Fabula literary award.

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In the course of the talks programmes, the entrance hall at REX gets transformed into a café with a promising name New Social Relations. The idea to set up a café with such a name was born out of the wish to promote, generate and apply the ideas of new social relations. The café is intended for activist groups, informal associations, different initiatives that can achieve better visibility in this way and establish contact with the public. In addition to being given an opportunity to answer the questions of visitors interested in in their work and talk to them, the participants in the New Social Relations programme are free to choose the manner of showcasing their agenda.

Last year, the first guests-hosts at the café were talks programmes and the Ulice za bicikliste (Streets for Cyclists) association http://www.uzb.rs/ set up during the Critical Mass event with the aim of improving traffic conditions for cyclists and promoting the culture of walking and cycling. In January 2013, the café played host to the Independent Cultural Scene of Serbia association (ICSS) which showcased its activities. Cultural Centre REX is among its members. The association is a collaborative platform bringing together organizations, initiatives and individuals active in the field of culture and art in Serbia. For more information about the association, its activities and members please visit:  http://www.nezavisnakultura.net/.

This time, the visitors will have an opportunity to browse and get the material published by our long-time collaborators, Anarcho-bartenders, an independent self-managed collective, open to everyone who shows the desire and readiness to contribute to the Self-management Bar project launched by several members of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative (ASI). The collective will be introducing the audience and visitors to quotations from publications focusing on social and political emancipation and raising funds towards the imminent social revolution.