Nenad Popović, Minister without portfolio of Serbia, in charge of innovations and technological developments, called for “the urgent stop of the import of gay picture books.” He made the call in a Facebook post following the presentation of Croatian children’s book on same-sex parents in Belgrade, about ten days ago.
The book was published first in Croatia, by organization Rainbow Families (Dugine Obitelji) which works primarily on family rights for same-sex couples. While the book has received wide appraise at home and abroad – also in countries of the former Yugoslavia, with the organization having to raise funds for more publications to come through, it also received negative attention from conservative groups. In one occasion, several copies of the book were burned demonstratively at an event in Croatia.
Meanwhile, the presentation of the book in Belgrade by association Rainbow Families in cooperation with local organization Gayten LGBT, caught the attention of Mr. Popović who called for the “urgent stop of import of gay picture books, while the Government is trying every possible way to encourage higher birth rates.”
Local organization ‘Da Se Zna’, working on prevention of discrimination and hate crime, responded to Popovic’s statement, arguing that such statement is unreasonable from a Government which has already adopted a “Strategy for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination” and has taken up the work to prepare a draft law on registered partnerships.
They also argued that same-sex families have no negative influence on a country’s birthrates, bringing here the examples of many countries which have such laws and high birthrates, that all scientific research shows no differences in the upbringing of children by same-sex couples compared to opposite-sex ones and that the call of banning these books is a serious infringement of freedom of expression – to which Serbia is bound to respect by its own Constitution and all agreements and treaties it has ratified. The organization questioned the Government’s “deep commitment to the issue of human and minority rights” as recently stated by Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and argued that such statements violate a number of laws, including the Constitution, and that they lead to further stigma, discrimination and marginalization of LGBTI people in Serbia.
Organization Gayten LGBT also strongly condemned the statement of Mr. Popović, pointing out to his discrimination against same-sex parents in comparison to opposite-sex ones. They also argued how numerous studies show that children of same-sex parents and children of those who are raised by opposite-sex ones, have no differences in psychosocial maturity and adaptability, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression or exposure to domestic violence. They also reminded the Serbian government of the serious commitments it has taken to protect LGBTI people from discrimination and pointed out to the lack of family rights by LGBTI people.