The Ministry of Culture in Serbia has given financial support to an online news website dedicated to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and transgender population within the country and the Serbian Diaspora.
Queer Serbia Web Portal features news about events in Serbia and abroad, as well as features on gay on lesbian culture and art.
It aims to increase LGBT visibility and fight homophobia in society.
The site received financial support of 256.500 RSDinars (£2,500).
In 2003 the Ministry of Culture pledged funding for the portal, but it was never paid after a change of minister.
Later an adviser to the new Minister for Culture, Bora Đorđević, told the press: “he has no intention to give money to faggots.”
“This is a big step for the gay-lesbian population in Serbia, which received for the first time a support from the State, which is financed back also by them through taxes and contributions, and which did not do a lot till now regarding the respect of gay-lesbian rights,” said Predrag M. Azdejkovic, Editor in Chief of the Queeria Web Portal.
Serbia is not a member of the EU but the government has declared European integration to be one of the strategic priorities for the Republic and it has been a potential candidate country for the EU accession since 2003.
A recent progress report from the European Commission on candidate countries said that in Serbia violent attacks, hate speech and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is prevalent.
The government failed to provide adequate protection against discriminatory treatment and comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation has not been adopted yet and the protection against discrimination in the labour market is also very weak.
In September a group of 25 people were the victims of an “organised attack by fascists” after attending the 5th Queerbeograd festival in Belgrade.
“Police that were patrolling in a side street were there quickly but it didn’t prevent some of the QB participants getting seriously hurt,” the festival organisers said after the attack.
“One fascist was arrested. The attackers consisted of members of Obraz, a fascist group that also organised the attack on the Pride in 2001.”
The locations of Queerbeograd events had not been publicised in advance for security reasons.
The festival website referred to the first planned Pride Parade in Belgrade in 2001, which was blocked “by a large group of violent homophobic hooligans.”
Obraz, which has links with other far-right groups, is classified as an ‘Orthodox clero-fascist’ organisation.
It is notorious for its extreme homophobic views and taste for attacking gay people.
There was concern for the large number of gay people who normally attend the Eurovision Song Contest when it was hosted in Belgrade earlier this year.
Obraz threatened to attack them, but the event passed off peacefully.
Two-thirds of Serbs consider homosexuality an illness and half want their government to work to prevent it.
An estimated 70% of gay people have been physically assaulted or know another gay person who has.