European Union To Hopeful Member Nations: Get Better On Gay Rights Or Stay Out

As it has in the past, the European Union has issued an ultimatum to countries hoping to join the EU: get better on gay rights or you won’t be allowed in.

A new LGBT survey, conducted over the next year, will determine whether hopefuls like Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo sufficiently protect gay people by gathering “data on levels of discrimination, hate crimes and legal protection experienced by LGBT people.”

Some of the EU’s specific concerns in its 2012 accession report, according to the Gay News Network:

The report recommended Turkey include homophobia and transphobia in hate crime provisions and criticised the Turkish Army for continuing to classify homosexuality as a ‘psychosexual illness’.

Serbia’s government was rebuked for a “lack of political will … to ensure the safety of the participants of the Pride Parade” that was supposed to be held in Belgrade last year.

Serbia, for its part, seems to be making progress—a district court recently sentenced a far-right leader who has incited violence at Belgrade Pride Parades (which even became the subject of an award-winning parody film, The Parade).

Do you think Turkey, Montenegro, or Kosovo will make enough progress on gay rights to please the EU within the next year?

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  • Pete

    These are not the only homophobic countries. There are several already in the EU that are doing a terrible job: Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Hungary. The EU needs to do some tough policing on these countries too, which normally ban any PRIDE events, and where gay bashing is sport.

  • JTKlaus

    The EU is the beacon of hope in this world. All good things come from Europe.

  • Charley

    A lot better than the official positions of our federal government.

  • Juan

    The EU is one of the causes of the economic problems in Europe.I wouldn’t call that the beacon of hope in the world.

  • jason

    Serbia is an interesting case. It represents Slavic pride and Slavic masculinity. It’s a very proud form of masculinity which requires adherence to the notion that one must be interested in women and get married in order to contribute to the human race.

    Keep in mind how pivotal Serbia has been in shaping the world’s history. The teenager who assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sofie back in 1914 was a Serb. His name was Gavrilo Princip. He wanted the Austrian-Hungarian Empire – which had recently assumed control over part of that region – out of there. He shot and killed Ferdinand and his wife after their car took a wrong turn while touring Sarajevo in Bosnia, and Princip himself just happened to be standing at the spot on the corner as the car stalled while the driver was reversing it to correct its path.

    What followed was a remarkable sequence of events that shaped world history. The Austrian-Hungarian empire declared war on Serbia a month later. Then, within a week, countries all over Europe started taking sides. World War I began. In the wash-up of the war, four empires effectivly collapsed across Europe and Russia. Communism rose to fill the vacuum left by the fall of the royal houses. The Versailles Treaty – which ended World War I – penalized Germany with massive financial penalties. Due to this, Germany went into a depression and Hitler rose on the back of German discontent. World War II resulted.

    My point is this: a poor Serbian peasant boy by the name of Gavrilo Princip shot and killed the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne when the latter’s car took a wrong turn. From something relatively small, something enormous resulted. Think butterfly effect – Serbia is very influential.

  • No-Obot

    And yet the European Court of Human Rights recently issued a ruling that same-sex marriage equality is not a human right, but heterosexual marriages must be given these “special” privileges alone (such as in adoption, property rights, tax breaks etc.) and heterosexuals should be given exclusively that “special” status in society. Apparently, marriage equality for GLBT is not a human rights issue because there is absolutely no discrimination involving any gay couple in an intimate, committed relationship anywhere else in Europe which does not afford marriage protections, benefits and privileges to same-sex couples. …Yeah right!

    The EU…ahead of the US, by leaps and bounds on most civil rights issues…but still backasswards on according full human dignity and equality to the GLBT community. The iron grip on hetero-centric privilege is difficult to break when it is still buttressed by centuries of religiosity, stupidity and bigotry — especially in Eastern and Southern Europe.

  • Tyn

    I was actually in Belgrade last year for Gay Pride. The EU’s criticism of the government’s decision to cancel Pride at the last minute completely ignores the context of the situation at the time:

    First, remember that Belgrade had a Pride parade the year before in 2010 that was supported by the government and (supposedly) protected by the police, but which resulted in massive riots, bombings, and general destruction around the city that lasted for days. Dozens of people were killed and injured. Granted, the police did not do all they could to stem violence or protect marchers, but the fact remains that the country (in particular it’s extreme right-wing fanatics endorsed by the Serbian Orthodox church) preferred to destroy their own capital rather than let a few gay people walk down the street. This is the context in which the 2011 Pride Parade plan was conceived.

    Originally, the government was going to allow the Pride Parade to take place again in 2011, despite the awful violence that followed the year before. However, two important events happened immediately before the 2011 parade that changed things dramatically:

    First, there was a fresh flare up of tensions at the border with Kosovo (whoever thinks that war is over is dreaming). Initially, this was actually seen as a positive development by parade organizers because it meant that most of the crazy right-wing fascists would leave Belgrade in order to play vigilante at the border, leaving Pride marchers in Belgrade in relative peace (talk about cynical Balkan perspective, eh?).

    Second: That border dispute with Kosovo was resolved (or at least momentarily defused) at the last minute, allowing all the crazy violent people enough time to make it back to Belgrade before the parade. They threatened to bomb pedestrian centers, police stations, government buildings, even Parliament itself, if the government allowed the parade to take place. The fascists even detonated a few “warning bombs” in the suburbs to make their intentions clear.

    So, faced with the potential for a new war with Kosovo and real, credible threats of mass terrorism, the government authorities cancelled the Pride Parade at the last minute (literally the evening before). Their stated rationale was surprisingly direct, saying they were cancelling the parade to preserve public safety, not because there was anything wrong with being gay.

    Obviously, the Serbian government (and it’s people, and it’s church) has a lot more work to do on advancing LGBT equality at home. However, given the circumstances at the time, and the reality of what Serbia is actually like, the government made a reasonable decision last year when it cancelled the Pride Parade. To be clear: this is NOT good enough for the people of Serbia, and this is NOT good enough to qualify for entry into the EU. However, we need to acknowledge the reality on the ground in Serbia where war and terrorism are daily concerns.

    Learn more about Serbian Pride by visiting the official website here:


    On a side note: Turkey is one of the most modern, most Westernized countries in all of Europe–way more familiar to a Western visitor than the Balkan states. They have more work to do on LGBT issues for sure, but the real reason the EU keeps them out is because they are a predominantly Muslim country.

    The EU countries should spend more time worrying about the LGBT rights records of their current member states (same-sex marriage, inclusion of sexuality and gender identity/expression in non-discrimination laws, access to affordable health care for LGBT people, etc) than adding more countries to their already unstable mix.

  • taylor

    uhh Gavrilo Princip was a Serb, but he was born in Bosnia and his crime was committed in Bosnia. He, as an individual, does not represent how influential Serbia is as a country, at all.

    Having been to all of these countries; none have made enough progress on gay rights to truly become part of the European Union. The EUs standards on gay rights aren’t great currently, as No-Obot pointed out, but the European Human Rights Court may have been trying to prompt another protocol to the European Charter of Human Rights rather than use judicial activism to ensure same-sex marriage as law is beyond reproach. Doing so with an influx of countries who don’t believe in gay rights would be difficult.

    Regardless, I was under the impression that countries could not be a part of the EU if they were/if they had a protectorate. With the status of Kosovo still being undecided in the international community, and the the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyrus being universally unrecognized, Montenegro is the only of these countries that stands a chance at EU admission regardless of gay rights. Why any country would want to join the EU with the euro in the state that is in is beyond me.

  • Sansacro

    @jason: And a kid on the corner of serbia fighting for gay rights is also a butterfly.

  • brian

    @No-Obot: the European Court of Human Rights is not an EU institution. It is an institution of the Council of Europe, an entirely separate organisation, that includes many states that are not in the EU, like Azerbaijan and Russia.

  • Heterophilic

    What are all you homos doing here? Serbia does not want you neither does Eastern Europe. Stay in your West where you were spawned.

  • Lumi Bast (@nugoyxi)

    @ Heterophilic

    Gays are in every country and always will be so you need to get over it

  • jason


    Many proud Serbian men are gay or bisexual. Deal with it.

    It’s the Orthodox Church which must take the blame for a lot of homophobia in Serbia. It’s a horribly homophobic church. I say let’s criticize the Orthodox Church.

  • Heterophilic

    No Serb is proud to be a Homo! No Russian is proud and neither are Ukrainians! How can they be? Live and let live, but….no parade and no Belgrade!

  • Yul Brynner

    Nearly every Serb I’ve ever met has shown an interest in same-sex play. (There’s a lot of homoeroticism in Eastern European culture… Add most Greek and Bulgarian men to the list of the sexually curious.)

    The EU head honchos don’t have the best track record when it comes to discouraging homophobia within the polity. Poland and Latvia have never been evicted, and they have been just as homophobic as the aspiring members.

  • Petar


    I’m sorry but Bulgaria is one of the most tolerant and gay-friendly countries in the region and cannot be compared in any way to the chauvinistic and racist Serbia. Gay people in Bulgaria enjoy far more visibility and acceptance in mainstream culture (look up “Azis”, the biggest pop-folk star in Bulgaria), we have an annual gay pride parade in Sofia, and a small but vibrant gay scene. Which cannot be said of our neighbours. Peace out!

  • Heterophilic

    @Yul Brynner: Those are not Serbs, you’re mistaken. They look like Serbs and act like Serbs but they are called Croats, believe me.

  • Houston Bill

    @Pete: While the situation in Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary are bad, they haven’t crossed the line yet. Lithuania is moving in the correct direction. Serbia is still bad. Moldova is worse.

  • Jim

    It’s not the lack of LGBT rights, in lots of European countries even ones in the EU allow Orthodox Moslems who are against bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians to come and live in their countries and when they put up their “Shiara Law” stickers or do worse things they’re not punished or told to go back to their home country where they should have stayed if they didn’t want to live in a country where LGBT people have freedom and equality.

  • Houston Bill

    @Tyn: Sorry but the Police Union endorsing the agenda of the violent homophobes was inexcusable in my opinion. The Interior Minister appears to be either incompetent or directly assisting the Obkaz group.

    Furthermore, the Serbian authorities did allow mass demonstrations on the streets on Belgrade the next night, even though they had supposedly banned all public processions.

    Two weeks later, a Serbian woman was nearly beat to death by a nationalist thug, simply for wearing a rainbow colored shirt. No prosecution resulted from this. The Serbian Government also illegally assisted a Serbian national escape prosecution and appropriate punishment for a vicious hate crime he committed in the United States. He was given a ‘slap on the wrist’ in Serbia. He would have gotten 10 years in the USA.

    The Serbian authorities continue to refuse to jail those making terroristic threats against peaceful protesters. The gentleman convicted will likely be out on appeal (from the conviction from 2009 – as far as I can tell no one was arrested for threatening mass terrorism and riots last year) and doing the exact same thing this October, without any correction from the Serbian Interior Ministry.

    If Serbia’s state is so weak that it cannot protect 100 Gay People marching 500 feet in their Capital City, then it is unfit for EU membership. I think the real problem is with the Serbian Interior Ministry, Police forces, and Prosecutors.

    Serbia’s Interior Ministry has now had 18 months to prepare for Parada Ponosa October 2012. I’m not cutting them any slack if they cannot (or more likely, will not) protect the basic right of protest, petition, and speech in central Belgrade. They have no excuses this time.

  • Houston Bill

    @taylor: Montenegro is even more backward than Serbia on Gay Rights and on freedom of petition, protest, and assembly for minorities. Were starting to focus on them, along with Albania, certain regions of Croatia (Split), Bosnia, Kosova, and Macedonia.

    We shall see what happens in Albania next month, when Gay Albanians march for their rights in public for the first time ever. Its going to look really pathetic for Serbia and Montenegro if Albania (!) decides to jump past you guys on the metrics of good governance and democratic values. It looks like the Albanians are going to protect the marchers. And I doubt Albania is going to burn their capital to the ground as a result.

  • Houston Bill

    @Yul Brynner: Actually, Poland did have a problem, but not anymore. Gay Pride parades go on without incident in multiple places in Poland. Openly Gay men and even a transgendered person serve in the National legislature as elected MP’s. The EU has been quite vocal in forcing Lithuania and Latvia to respect its EU accession accords. And while not Gay paradises, the situation there is improving and Gay protests are allowed and protected in all of those places.

    Freedom to be Gay means more than the freedom to go to a Gay Bar. It means the freedom to advocate publically for one’s rights. That ability is severely restricted (either by law, or by nullification by the authorities) in Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Montenegro, parts of Croatia, Albania (subject to next month’s protest), Macedonia, Kosova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and unrecognized Transdnestria, South Ossetia, Abhakazia, and Northern Cyprus. None of these places are part of the EU.

    I draw a distinction between the nations where Gays are not even allowed to protest with nations where large segments of the population are hostile towards Gay persons, such as Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

  • jones

    why do you people always call your selves gay, and fight for gay rights, you really sodimist, and fight for the right to sodimise yourselves and other people. how would that be, realising to your self what you really are, sadistic people who want others to be like themselves, if some ones culture doesnt accept sodimy, why do you demonise them, its the same as you demonise others who dont accept sodomy (being gay), how far will your sadistic life take you, and your sodomy, take all the deceit and lies of sodomy, and what are you left with, not much

  • carlo

    me and my bf went to sunny beach in bulgaria a couple of years ago. there was a designated nudist gay area near the dunes not far from our hotel.
    the locals seemed to be quite alright with all the hoardes of naked gays walking around 24/7. i found the whole place very gay-friendly.

  • Heterophilic

    Serbian Pride prevents Homo movement in Serbia. But we do pitty your psycho-physical illness. God help you and those infidels who promote you.

  • Christianity is like Islam


    wonder if it also rapes children by the hundreds of thousands like the RCC?

  • Heterophilic's Mother

    I must apologize for my idiot son, “Heterophilic”. He was a breach birth and my husband accidentally anally violated him when he was in my womb — while we were making love. It apparently has caused him irreversible brain damage. Forgive him for his stupidity and homophobia.

  • Tom

    @Heterophilic: “[…] no parade and no Belgrade!”

    I dunno, buddy. I suppose you guys can prevent the Pride Parade. But I think you might be stuck with Belgrade.

    Sorry to hear about your mental illness. You should eat more beets, comrade. Release the kraken!

  • Tom


    These pathetic knuckle-draggers can hardly spell. I see no reason why we should consider anything they have to say.

    Sorry your country’s so shitty, bro. Not the fault of the gays, however.

  • Heterophilic

    @Tom: United we stand on the last front – The East, and against the Homo sickness!! We shall prevail. We shall prevail.

  • Lance

    @Heterophilic: All this delicious trolling.

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