One Step Forward

by Julie Mertus

On Wednesday, 16 November 1994, Arkadia's lesbian activist Lepa Mladjenovic, appeared on the local television show called "Nus pojave" ("Incidentals"). That was the first time in Serbian history that an official representative of a lesbian and gay group took part in a public TV show. Another guest of the show was Wendy Eastwood, British lesbian feminist, presently living in Novi Sad (Vojvodina-Serbia).

The main subject was lesbians and feminism in Serbia, although the discusion also included issues of diferences between gays and lesbians in general, lesbian subculture and marriage and family.

Wendy Eastwood pointed out that through active Gay and Lesbian support of other minorities and opressed peoples in Britain, there is sometimes active support and sympathy from these people against British homophobic laws. She also explained that discrimination against lesbians doesn't exist only because of their sexuality, but also because of their gender role in society.

"Arkadija is against any kind of discrimination. We are suffering enormous discrimination from our society, and therefore we feel that we are obligated to support all of those who are in the same or similar position", Lepa Mladjenovic explained one of the main principles of Arkadia's policy.

The show lasted for more than hour, and it was shown on prime time on the Art Channel. So far, the reaction to the show has been positive. Several viewers commented that Ms. Mladjenovic and Ms. Eastwood were pleasant and "perfectly O.K." "At least they liked us," Ms. Mladjenovic remarked after the show, "We tried to present a positive image of lesbians and I think we succeeded."

Just one more step towards visibility of Yugoslav lesbians!

Julie Mertus is a human rights lawyer working in Belgrade. Email address: JULIE.MERTUS@ZAMIR-BG.comlink.apc.org