For more information about the hearing please see www.iglyo.org
Following is the report from Urska Sterle, Slovenia as presented at the Hearing.
Not for "that" kind of people.
End of june 2001, two homosexuals, Brane Mozetič, gay activist, and his guest Jean Paul Daust, Canadian gay poet, were denied entry into a cafe Galerija in Ljubljana. They were told by the member of security staff at the door that "they should get used to it that this place is not for "that" kind of people".
Legal protection against discrimination of lesbian and gay people in Slovenia is guaranteed by the Constitution. Article 14 ensures equality before the law and equal human rights for all citizens without discrimination on any ground, including "other personal circumstances" sexual orientation being one of them.
In 1998/99 the police entered lgbt bars Tiffany and Monokel in Ljubljana with strong flash lights and unlawfully checked the identification of some activists present. After police repeatedly visited both clubs and intimidated visitors at the end of 2000, it was officially reported to Amnesty International.
In slovenia four NGO's are active in the field of gay and lesbian rights, gay group ŠKUC-Magnus (since 1984), mixed gay and lesbian group Roza klub (since 1990), lesbian group ŠKUC-LL (since 1987) and mixed youth group Legebitra (since 1998).
Despite more than 16 years of organised gay and lesbian movement, there are no governmental institutions or other services dealing with issues of homosexuality. The fact that the State is ignoring the issue of gay and lesbian rights is obvious from the time it takes for the bill on same sex partnership to enter the national parliament.
In 1997, the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs started the process of adopting the bill on same-sex partnerships. The Ministry named the expert commission, after their own request the representatives of the lesbian group ŠKUC-LL and gay group Magnus, were allowed to take an active part in the process of drafting the bill. Since 1998, the bill for registered same-sex partnerships has been waiting to enter the national parliament. The bill would introduce the possibility of registration for same-sex couples with two legal consequences: the right and duty to support partner without income and the regulation of property relations between partners. After the official statement of the Governmental Office for European Affairs, the bill should pass before 2002 at the latest. The law that the Santa is supposedly bringing us this Christmas is a start but is still far from ensuring equal rights to gay and lesbian couples. Many of the rights granted to heterosexual partners will still not be feasable to same sex partners in registered partnership including adoption rights and the right to medical artificial insemination.
Homosexuality persistantly enters the public space trough spectacles and scandals rather than trough an articulated political, civil and human rights context.
Althought a slow tendency towards less sensational and more accurate reporting is visible, the high degree of insufficient knowledge about homosexuality and the biased attitudes of the journalists are also present. Media's discomfort with homosexuality is so great that it often allowes for the hate speach to pass uncommented and unproblematised as in recent case of notorious slovene psychiatrist who, in his interviews repeatedly makes homophobic, xenophobic and shovinistic remarks which the media turnes into the spectacle and entertainment rather than problematising their meaning.
Those that try to cover homosexual issues in positive light somehow cannot escape the medical discourse. Homophobia is treated as something totally new showing that the media is covering eyes from years of discrimination of gays and lesbians.
To claim that the media is the source of all evil would be a great simplification. The media is largely producing what it's consumers demand.
Acording to the main public opinion poll, SJM Research, which is systematicaly conducted by the Faculty of Social Sciences (University of Ljubljana) it is possible to conclude that the level of social intolerance toward homosexuality is considerable.
In 1992 app. 42% of people questioned stated that they "did not like homosexuals for neighbours". The same answer was given by app. 62% in 1993 and app. 60% in 1998. In 1999, The Pedagogical Institute conducted systematic research in schools called "Education for a healthy life", where pupils aged between 14 and 15 were interviewed. The research showed that young people do not receive sufficient information about homosexuality. In totaly only about 10% of school children received information about homosexuality at school. The research also showed that approximately the same number of young people thought that "homosexuality is a disease".
The area of education is significantly lacking information with regard to homosexuality on all levels.
In 1998/99 fold-ins on Homophobia were sent on all slovene schools by ŠKUC-LL as a part of anti-homofobic education project. Only 2 of the contacted schools replied and reported to have used the material given.
The state is reluctant to include anti-homophobic pedagogic work into educational system. Instead this work is being done by the NGO's. For several years The Assosiation for non-violent communication performed a set of work-shops about violence and discrimination in high schools. A part of the program was the work-shop on homosexuality. In spring 2001 the High school for print and paper in Ljubljana rejected it because of complaints of several parents. Parents were claiming that the school by including this workshop as a part of extra-curriculum activities was promoting "homosexualism".
End of november 2001 a sociology seminary work entitled "Lesbians and the class of women" has been rejected by the State Matura comission. Comission's decision to turn down the seminary work was based solely on it's title. Seminary work is a part of the Matura exam, the exam students take at the end of the high school and that if they pass it, enables them application to faculty. The comission turned down proposed title for the seminary work without any explanation and without any possibility of complaint to their decision. SKUC-LL strongly protested and notified the ombudsman. At the end of 2001 the title has finally been accepted by the commision, yet again without any explanation.
Topic of homosexuality is rarely covered in curricula. Mostly it is mentioned at sociology or biology where it is often placed into the category of deviant sexual behaviour. Inclusion of glbt issues into the educational process is based mainly on good will of the teaching staff.
Youth group Legebitra tries to fill the informational and socialisational gap that young people encounter at school. The group offers safe place for discussions relevant to gay and lesbian youth.
The main organised glbt scene is centered in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana leaving gays and lesbians from smaller towns accross Slovenia cut away from it. While for grown up gays and lesbians a possible trip to ljubljana is not mission immposible, for homosexual youth who is not studying in Ljubljana active participation on the lgbt scene is not feasable. Therefore the youth group Legebitra supported all the initiatives from the local lgbt individuals to start a similar local lgbt groups, offering them knowledge, moral and organisational support. Somehow this was not enough to help local groups to start or to function on long term basics. After several attempts at different towns in Slovenia it was clear that what young people who want to start a youth group need is a cover organisation or a partner who can provide some financial support.
Rather than grasping the concept that homosexuality is a part of discourse on human rights, the State, media and the public tend to push it into the concepts of trivia or simplly ignore it.
Slovenia as one of the candidates in the EU Accession Process is largely ignoring EU recommendations about the equality of it's lgbt citizens. So it is not off the track to conclude that the State with it's silence regarding gay and lesbian rights is telling us day after day that this country is not for "that" kind of people.
T. Greif: "Slovenia", in Equality for Lesbians and Gay Men, ILGA - Europe, Brussels, March 2001
R. Kuhar: "Primer Cafe Galerija", Intolerance monitoring group, report No. 01, Mirovni inštitut, Ljubljana, 2001
R. Kuhar: "Geji in lezbijke vam želijo lep dan", Medijska preža, Mirovni inštitut, Ljubljana, poletje/jesen 2001
T. Greif, N. Velikonja: "Anketa na osnovi spolne usmerjenosti", Lesbo 11/12, Ljubljana, 2001
Društvo za nenasilno komunikacijo: "Pismo proti homofobiji", Lesbo 11/12, Ljubljana, 2001
Raziskava "Vzgoja za zdrav nacin življenja in prenova šolskega sistema v Sloveniji", Lesbo 11/12, Ljubljana, 2001
Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Slovenia - a report by ŠKUC-LL
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