- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2009

BELGRADE, SERBIA (AP) - Serbian lawmakers narrowly gave final approval Thursday an anti-discrimination law that is part of pro-Western reforms but was strongly opposed by the Serbian Orthodox Church and other conservatives.

Parliament passed the bill with a slim majority of 127 votes in favor to 59 against _ one more vote than was needed for passage in the 250-member parliament. The remaining deputies did not attend.

The law bans any kind of discrimination, whether based on race, religion, sexual orientation or gender or other factors.

The legislation was part of reforms to align the nation with European Union policies and was crucial if Serbian citizens were to gain the right to travel without visas to the 27 EU member nations.

But its adoption triggered public turmoil in Serbia, which is predominantly conservative.



The Serbian Orthodox Church, supported by other religious groups, had requested changes to the articles on gay rights and religious freedoms. It has argued the law could be open to misinterpretation and misuse. Other critics have said it runs counter to Serbian tradition.

The government initially withdrew the law to review the church’s remarks, but that angered liberals. In the end, the government made no major changes.

Apart from banning discrimination, the law also provides for a special state representative to monitor possible discrimination, and outlines punitive measures.

The parliamentary vote came after a lengthy debate pitting the pro-Western lawmakers against the nationalists and conservatives.

Serbia launched pro-Western reforms after the ouster in 2000 of former autocrat Slobodan Milosevic.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide