UNRC Opening Remarks at the Social Dialogue on the Draft Law on Same Sex Partnership
Opening speech by Françoise Jacob, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia on the event Social Dialogue on the Draft Law on Same Sex Partnership
Once again I am happy to participate to another important social dialog organized by Minister Comic, and Minister, I congratulate you for your tenacity and intention to bring Serbia on this important journey towards less discrimination and more social inclusion. I command your drive to push these agendas fast. You are not doing business as usual!
I also want to praise the wide inclusion of the civil society and the LGBT community in the current consultation process. We know that the meaningful participation of many groups representing different perspectives can guarantee a better result.
Same sex unions, along with the many collateral issues of the right to have a family, joint property, inheritance, health visiting rights, etc are topics that carry their own share of social stigma, prejudice and extreme polarization, within and across families, communities, political parties, and religious bodies. This is not an easy topic to fight for. While I prepared for this event today, I recalled the trajectory that we took in my country, France. Homosexuality was officially de-penalized in 1791, and 230 years later, in 2013, we adopted the law on same sex marriage – same year that a draft law on same sex partnership was presented in Serbia, for the first time. France was the country in Europe with the highest level of resistance in the public opinion. At the end, the law was adopted relatively quickly, despite more than 5000 comments. And within 8 years of this law being passed, the % of people favorable to same sex marriage went from 50% to 80%. So yes, the right law can make a huge difference in actions and perceptions.
The fact that this debate takes place now and will take place in the highest institutions in the country is in itself progress. It will be a step forward towards greater equality for those members of the LGBT community who still feel deprived of their rights to private life and family.
This is closely connected to so many risks that the LGBT community faces – violence, homophobic and transphobic hate speech, social unacceptance and discrimination. In a recent survey, we found out that more than 50% of people consider that the LGBT is the most discriminated community in the country. This law will fully complement the other laws that you are working on minister Comic, particularly the law on equality and non-discrimination.
We should use this momentum with courage and work together to address resistance and incomprehension, on the basis of equality of rights and dignity for all. As the UN resident coordinator, I am privileged to have a great team for human rights, and all UN agencies are committed to this agenda. We will support the community and the institutions to create partnerships for diversity and equality and push harder to adopt a progressive and ambitious legal text, fully in line with the UN Human Rights standards and conventions, the Leave No One Principle of Agenda 2030, and most importantly, with the European values, principles and legal framework.
Today, we truly stand up for rights and equality for all, with empathy, intelligence and commitment.