STA, 18 March 2019 - A new far-right party is emerging on the Slovenian political scene two months before the EU election, modelled on the Italian League and Fidesz in Hungary, and drawing on former and current supporters of the opposition Democrats (SDS). It is seen as complementary with, or a competition to, the SDS.
Called the Homeland League (Domovinska liga) and using the acronym DOM (home), the party has a Twitter account and has so far sent out broad outlines of its policies, centred around opposition to migrations, to LGBT-friendly policies and to EU federalism.
One tweet reads that the party sees French President Emanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European People's Party (EPP) top candidate Manfred Weber as "destroyers of the EU".
"The European spring is coming, the spring of European nations... The European spring is symbolised by the sovereignist bloc under the leadership of Matteo Salvini. The Homeland League wishes to be a part of that undertaking," another tweet reads.
The party was officially registered on 26 February, which means that it had to satisfy the statutory requirement of having at least 200 members, and is provisionally headed by Žiga Jereb, a former mid-ranking member of the SDS who is largely unknown among the general public.
Quizzed by Dnevnik newspaper, Jereb did not specify what his current relationship with the SDS is, but the paper said in a report published on Saturday that individuals who parted ways with the SDS form the core of the Homeland League.
While remaining somewhat secretive until it formally presents its programme on 6 April, the party already has some visible supporters.
One of them is Bernard Brščič, a former senior aide to SDS leader Janez Janša who works as economist for power grid operator Eles and has become a leading ideologue of the Slovenian alt-right.
A leading proponent of the White Genocide theory, which holds that brown Muslims are bent on displacing whites with high fertility and terrorism, he uses Twitter to disseminate anti-Muslim and anti-immigration messages.
He has often warned against proponents of a "multiculti" society and "negroids" invading what he says is becoming "EUrabia".
Brščič is also a staunch supporter of the Generation of Identity, the Slovenian version of the identitarian movement. He wrote the foreword to a book the group published with Nova Obzorja, a book and magazine publisher co-owned by the SDS.
Brščič has confirmed he is in talks with the Homeland League to become their top candidate for the EU election and participated in drawing up the party's platform, though he is not a member.
Quizzed by the STA, he described himself as having "unparalleled experience and knowledge of the political situation in Europe" and said he doubted the party "will have a better candidate than me."
Domovinska liga se ne vidi v EPP, ker:— Dom (@DomovinskaLiga) March 12, 2019
1. Nasprotujemo Globalnemu sporazumu o migracijah
2. Nasprotujemo Združenim državam Evrope
3. Nasprotujemo širjenju LGBT+P oznanila v državnih institucijah
4. Vidimo Macrona, Merklovo, Junckerja, Webra & Co. kot uničevalce EU. pic.twitter.com/FlQrInASEM
Some of DOM's positions
Another prominent supporter is Lucija Šikovec Ušaj, a lawyer who ran on the SDS ticket in the general election but later left the SDS because she thought the party was too soft on migrations.
Šikovec Ušaj is currently the legal counsel of Andrej Šiško, who is on trial for inciting to subvert the constitutional order with a local militia he formed in Maribor called the Štajerska Guard.
She is also a regular columnist for nova24tv.si, the web portal of the TV station co-owned by senior SDS members and businessmen with close ties to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
She rose to prominence on social media with staunch anti-immigrant rhetoric and is currently being processed by the disciplinary body of the Bar Association for hate speech against migrants.
The emergence of the party is seen by some as an attempt to brandish the image of the SDS, which has veered far to the right in recent years, and move it back towards the centre.
Reporter, a right-leaning magazine, says in Monday's commentary that the Homeland League is "a satellite of the SDS, which appears to want to move back to the centre ahead of the election and leave the space on the right to its loudest and most controversial extremists."
The paper says this tactic could help the SDS effectively secure an extra MEP, but it argues the move could also potentially backfire.
News portal Siol similarly says in a report released on Monday that the move helps the SDS in that the new party is conceived as a "special purpose vehicle onto which the SDS will shift the most radical portion of the party."
It says this would help SDS leader Janez Janša keep a part of his base while still coming across as "more moderate and less radical and Orbanite."
According to Siol, such a move is the latest in Janša's long history of founding or subjugating rightist parties, which function as "planets that circle around a single sun following predictable orbits."
But there are also reports suggesting the party is a project not controlled by the SDS.
Commercial broadcaster Kanal A said in a report last week it had unofficial information indicating that SDS leader Janša is "very angry" at Brščič and Ušaj.
Political analyst Andraž Zorko described the new party for the news portal Zurnal24 as an attempt to consolidate the far-right base so that it could support the SDS from the fringe.
But while the move is designed to consolidate votes previously picked up by multiple parties, "it could also invariably chip off some votes from the SDS and the People's Party (SLS), if the latter plays the anti-migration card as it did in the general election," he said.
Keep up with Slovenian politics here
Slovenia was recently assessed as the 28th most LGBT-friendly travel destination in the world (see here), and the capital prides itself on being particularly welcoming to this community, at least in terms of the City of Ljubljana’s official programmes.
Yesterday, March 6, saw the official start of the Red Dawns International Feminist & Queer Festival, which offers several days of events, exhibitions, discussions and concerts to bring people together for art and activism. The full programme for the event, in English, can be found here, while the Facebook page is here.
One large event, not strictly part of the festival but surely related, will be the Women’s Day march that’ll take place on Friday (08/03), starting at 17:00 in Congress Square (Kongresni trg), the main square downtown that’s also home to Zvezda Park.
All our stories about LGBT+ issues and Slovenia can be found here
While there seem to be few explicit appeals to the LGBT community in the official promotional efforts of the Slovenian Tourist Board, the country ranks fairly high on this year’s Spartacus Gay Travel Index, at #28. In terms of ex-Yugoslavia this compares to Bosnia-Herzegovina at 47, Croatia at 48, Serbia and Montenegro both at 68, and Macedonia at 83.
In contrast, when it comes to Slovenia’s other neighbours Austria ranks much higher, in 4th place, while Italy is at 41 and Hungary 57.
The ranking, which the German-based organisation carries out each year, is based on 14 criteria in three categories, from civil rights to discrimination and threats, based on information from Human Rights Watch, the UN Free & Equal campaign, and reports of human rights abuses against members of the LGBT community collected over the previous 12 months.
As the related webpage states:
The first category consists of civil rights. Among other things, it assesses whether gays and lesbians are allowed to marry, whether anti-discrimination laws exist or whether the age of consent is the same for heterosexual and homosexual couples. Discrimination is included in the second category. These include, for example, travel restrictions for HIV-positive persons and the prohibition of Pride parades and other demonstrations. The third category includes threats to the person through persecution, imprisonment or death penalty.
Slovenia’s 28th position is shared with Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Guadeloupe, Martinique and South Africa. The top countries on this list, sharing first place, are Canada, Portugal and Sweden, while the bottom four are Iran and Saudi Arabia (194), Somalia (196) and Chechnya (197). The United Kingdom is 4th, Germany 23rd, and the United States 47th
Nations gain points if they have anti-discrimination legislation, same-sex marriage or civil partnerships, adoption and transgender rights and an equal age of consent. In contrast, they lose points if religion influence legislation, if there are HIV travel restrictions or anti-gay laws, if homosexuality is illegal, if Gay Pride is banned, if the locals are hostile to the gay population, or if there are prosecutions, murders, or death sentences for members of the LGBT community.
On this basis Slovenia got a total of 6 points, with the breakdown as follows
Anti-discrimination legislation: 3
Marriage/civil partnership: 2
Adoption allowed: 1
Transgender rights: 0
Equal age of consent: 1
Religious influence: -1
HIV travel restrictions: 0
Anti-gay Laws: 0
Homosexuality illegal: 0
Pride banned: 0
Locals hostile: 0
Death sentences: 0
STA, 25 February 2019 - A dentist from north-eastern Slovenia has been found guilty of discriminating against an HIV patient in what is the first such ruling in Slovenia, a decision considered a key milestone in discrimination case law.
This is the first time a healthcare employee was found guilty of discriminating against an HIV patient, the newspaper Večer says on Monday about the court case that was closed to the public.
The dentist was ordered to pay EUR 2,700 in compensation to her former patient by the Maribor Higher Court in mid-2018.
The HIV-infected man saw the dentist in March 2016 and told her during the first visit that he was being treated for HIV. The dentist sent him for a dental x-ray.
The next week, when he came back for treatment, she told him he should get a new dentist. In court, the dentist claimed that she sent him away because she had only one set of particular instruments, which she could not sterilise in one afternoon.
However, both the first and the second instance courts ruled against her. The patient was eventually admitted by another dentist working at the same health centre, Večer reports.
The man reported the incident to Patient's Rights Ombudsman Vlasta Cafnik, who turned for help to the Medical Chamber but did not receive any response despite sending several emails and letters to several people in the organisation.
The patient also turned to the healthcare inspectorate, which responded that the Medical Chamber was in charge of such issues. He wrote to the chamber as well but received no answer and ultimately opted to hire a lawyer.
A mediation with the dentist was launched. It took a year before she wrote him an email, saying that she was aware that her treatment was demeaning and discriminatory.
The patient, who felt that the apology was not sincere, decided to take the dentist to court after her malpractice insurance company rejected his complaint.
She was found guilty at the first instance in April 2018. She appealed but the Higher Court upheld the first instance ruling in July 2018 and she ultimately paid the EUR 2,700 fine.
In response to the newspaper report about the case on Monday, the Medical Chamber said it was unacceptable to turn away a patient infected with a contagious disease.
"It needs to be taken into consideration, however, that such a case may affect organisation of work in the sense of rescheduling the appointment of the patient or other patients to ensure safe treatment of everyone present.
"All health staff has a duty to act in a way so as not to expose other patients to the risk of infection," the chamber said in a release.
The chamber said that it had received queries about the case from the patents' rights ombudsman in the previous term. In this term oversight was conducted with the dentist but "no departure from expert doctrine or work in comparable doctor's offices was established".
February 20, 2019
Ljubljana Pride Parade will happen on June 22 this year, and preparations for the event have already started.
To make sure everything works as it should, Pride is calling for Slovenian and foreign volunteers, preferably LGBTIQ+ people aged between 18 and 30 who are interested in LGBTIQ+ organisations, topics and politics. Legal EU residence is a must.
In return for help with organisation of the event, volunteers will get accommodation and food expenses covered, some pocket money, and other benefits. There are only 15 vacancies to be filled, so hurry and secure your place in Ljubljana this summer.
Find more details here and here.
STA, 14 December 2018 - The Council of Europe and UNESCO are urging against violence towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender individuals at schools in their latest report, which shows that in Slovenia 43% of young people were subject to this type of violence in 2014.
This can be psychological, physical or sexual violence that happens on school grounds and also on-line. Its most frequent forms are verbal violence and harassment, the CoE says in the report.
Such violence targeting members of the LGBTI community was detected in all CoE countries, most notably in Turkey (67%) and Belgium (47%).
In the section on the situation in Slovenia, the report refers to a 2013 research carried out by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency.
The survey showed that 59% of the 636 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons "always" or "frequently" heard negative remarks about their classmates' sexual orientation or sexual identity and 30% of them are "always" or "frequently" the targets of such remarks themselves.
All our stories tagged LGBT can be found here
The report also refers to the 2014 survey in which 42.8% of respondents aged between 15 and 30 years reported of at least one experience of a homophobic attack during their education.
Slovenia is among the 32 CoE members that have explicitly banned discrimination based on sexual orientation at schools and is one of the 24 CoE countries that have explicitly banned discrimination based on sexual identity in education.
In 2016, the Slovenian anti-discrimination legislation expanded the list of the types of discrimination banned to discrimination based on sexual identity, while discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned by the Constitution.
The report released on Thursday is based on responses of public sector employees from 35 CoE member states.
The full report, in PDF form, can be read here
The Festival of LGBT Film has come a long since the days when the organisers were building an underground event around a collection of VHS tapes hand collected from London, often screened without anyone involved knowing quite what they contained. Now getting ready to start it’s 34th edition, the festival is a well-established annual affair, put on with the support of public and private sponsors, and with a large, well-curated programme of features and shorts from around the world. Over twenty titles will be shown in Ljubljana, at Kinodvor, Kinoteka and Metelkova’s Klub Tiffany, with additional screenings in Maribor (IntimiKino), Koper (MKSMC), Ptuj (Mestin kino), Bistrica ob Sotli (Mladinski center), Idrija (Filmsko gledališče) and Trst/Trieste (Cinema Ariston).
The films come from Slovenia, the USA, China, Germany, Italy, Myanmar, Columbia, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, France, Paraguay, Brazil, Scotland, Kenya and elsewhere, with all screenings including both English and Slovene subtitles, when needed. The related website also has an English version, here, which includes the full schedule of screenings and events, and there’s also a Facebook page.
The festival presents a round-up of the last year or so in LGBT+ film from around the world, with both fictional and documentary presentations, including Chi salverà le rose? (Who Will Save the Roses?), Sydney and Friends, Mr Gay Syria, Call Her Ganda, Freak Show, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Rafiki, Carmen & Lola, Martesa (The Marriage Film), Consequences (Posledice), Obscuro Barroco, Queercore and The Handmaiden (Agassi), although note this list is incomplete and a fuller account can be found elsewhere online.
All our LGBT+ stories can be found here
The Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, and ŠKUC are co-hosting an international conference on LGBTQ+ literature in Eastern Europe on 25 and 26 October 2018, which will examine, among other issues, the following questions:
First, a note on terminology. I recently went on Alternative Ljubljana’s first English-language LGBT tour, and when going back into the early years of the more open scene, back in the 1980s, the term used was LG, which later became LGBT. More recently this was extended to LGBTQ, LGBTQI, LGBTQI+ and so on, with more missing letters to be added, just like the rainbow flag has evolved to show different parts of the spectrum. However, as a personal preference I’m averse to long acronyms that have to be spelled out, and four letters, like BYOB or MDMA, seem about right, with a nice, percussive rhythm. So for the purposes of this article we’ll be using LGBT, and I’ll also be using the terms gay and lesbian rather freely, with the former being a catch-all term for all the colours of the rainbow.