STA, 27 June 2021 - Maribor held its second Pride Parade on Saturday, a week after a similar event was held in Ljubljana, with the city's local authorities and the university joining in for the first time.
The organizers said they had distributed all the 300 promotional bracelets among the participants, as many more people took part.
Featuring rainbow flags and banners, the parade set off from the city's Freedom Square to proceed around the old town, calling for solidarity under the slogan For You, for Me for Us.
"The slogan is mean to express solidarity with everyone in Slovenia, not just the LGBTQIA+ community, mainly as a response to the current developments," said Doris Špurej, the coordinator of the programme of the Maribor Cultural Centre that organised the parade.
"Pride Parades have been important and are in particular important now, mainly in Maribor, where we are still lagging behind when it comes to visibility, safe spaces and access to information," she added.
Matej Behin, a member of the organising team, referred to Hungary's new anti-LGBTIQ law, stressing that "even the rights that have been gained cannot be taken for granted".
The biggest round of applause went to Urban Bren, the vice-chancellor of the University of Maribor, who described the rainbow flag on the chancellor's office as a sign "that we are an open and welcoming university in an open and welcoming town".
The event was also attended by representatives of the opposition Social Democrats and the Left.
Maribor held its first pride parade in June 2019. The event was not held last year.
STA, 24 June 2021 - The centre-left opposition called for Slovenia's top officials to protest against Hungary's controversial new anti-LGBTQ law, voicing disappointment over Slovenia's failure to join the 16 EU countries that expressed their concern over the law in a joint statement.
The Social Democrats (SD) voiced their expectation in a press release that Slovenia's top officials will express a "diplomatic protest" over violation of LGBTQ rights in Hungary as Prime Minister Viktor Orban visits Slovenia for the independence ceremony anniversary on Friday.
The party said the Hungarian parliament's decision to ban debate on homosexuality in the education process marked a fast march toward a society where there would be no freedom, equality or respect for diversity. The party illuminated its headquarters in Ljubljana in rainbow colours yesterday as a sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) is disappointed because Slovenia failed to sign on to the joint statement of 16 EU countries expressing concern over the contentious law and developments in Hungary "where the Viktor Orban regime sided with violation of basic human rights and tramples principles of equality".
"This is yet another piece of evidence showing our current government and Prime Minister Janez Janša in particular have been coquetting and cooperating with the Orban regime and even copying his conduct - in the field of media, judiciary and human rights as well as all other basic democratic standards".
Europe's #LGBT divide.— Dave Keating (@DaveKeating) June 22, 2021
With Italy's late signature, these are the 14 EU countries that signed today's statement condemning Hungary's new law banning 'displaying or promoting" homosexuality to people under 18.
Portugal didn't sign because it currently holds the EU presidency. pic.twitter.com/OtttcMUsz7
Calling the actions unacceptable, the party endorsed the position of the 16 EU countries in a press release, adding that in Slovenia most of the people were committed to human rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Slovenian constitution.
Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan said Slovenia did not join in the statement by the 16 EU countries because as the next country presiding the Council of the EU it would enter the role of a neutral negotiator "whose goal is to seek a balance between various views of EU member countries and look to near their views on common topics under discussion".
As a sign of protest against the Hungarian LGBTQ law, the city council of Munich called for the city's arena to be illuminated in rainbow colours for Wednesday's Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary, a move that was blocked by UEFA, Europe's football governing body, which is headed by Slovenia's Aleksander Čeferin.
The opposition Left criticised the UEFA leadership over the decision. In a press release on Wednesday the party called the decision regrettable, although not surprising "considering the football establishment is also invoking 'non-political' context when it imposes fines for Palestinian flags, pro-Catalan slogans [...]".
"Football is a political matter per se and at the same time a space that masses fill not only with their bodies but also with their persuasions," the party said.
STA, 20 June 2021 - The LGBTIQ+ community staged the Pride Parade in Ljubljana on Saturday afternoon under the slogan Resist the Oppression as a culmination of a week-long festival, demanding freedom, equality and unconditional respect for human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons. The annual parade was for the first time accompanied by the Balkan Trans Intersex March.
The rights the LGBTIQ+ community has acquired and perceived as unalienable are today again at stake, the Pride Parade Association, the event's organisers, said in a statement.
"Just like every year, we're fighting for our rights. But since we're witnessing a rise in hate and regression in what we've already achieved, it's now even more important to preserve what we've achieved," activist Katja Štefanec from the association told the STA.
The parade urged resistance against authoritative authorities and against the illiberalism of the incumbent government, which perceives as threat everything that is different, the organisers said.
The focus was also on the consequences the coronavirus epidemic and restrictions had for LGBTIQ+ persons, including rising homelessness and deteriorating mental health.
The Balkan Trans Intersex March meanwhile brought together members of the transgender, intersex and non-normative sexuality communities to march in Ljubljana's streets.
Held under the slogan With Love, the march addressed transphobia, interphobia, violence, lack of legal protection, violations of private rights and shortcomings in healthcare for the transgender, intersex and non-normative sexuality communities.
"Due to their sex change, transgender and intersex persons are faced with even more discrimination," the march's representative Edi Klobučar told the STA.
"There is an additional stigma in our country because of pathologisation, that is medicalisation. So the message of this year's parade is the need for access to healthcare, which has been additionally hindered due to the epidemic over the past year."
The march also called on the media to report on this community without additional stigmatisation.
Mayor Zoran Janković, addressing the parade as it arrived in Congress Square, said Ljubljana is a city that has always been and will remain open.
Simona Muršec, the association's president, said the past year had been hard, frustrating and hopeless for the entire LGBTIQ+ community, stressing that "the political measures to fight the epidemic pushed the bulk of our community into more poverty and more precariousness, back into the closet or even into homelessness."
She believes that after the epidemic, the LGBTIQ+ community will have to once again fight for its physical presence in society.
"In a society which does not have freedom, solidarity and dignity for all, there will soon be no freedom for anyone," stressed Matjaž Gruden, the head of the Council of Europe directorate for democratic participation, via video call.
The head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia, Jerneja Jug Jerše, said the EU was striving to be a union of equality, pointing to its adoption of a strategy on LGBTIQ+ equality last year.
Since 12 June, the Pride Parade Festival has featured a number of events, such as exhibitions, workshops, discussions, and literary events.
The first Pride Parade in Ljubljana was organised in 2001.
Saturday, 18 July, sees the main event of Pride Month take to the streets in Ljubljana – the annual parade and associated events. This year there’s a focus on Balkan Trans Inter solidarity, but as usual it’s open and welcoming to all, a fun day out to celebrate some of the freedoms Slovenians enjoy, in this the 30th year since the country gained independence.
You can start the day with the LGBTIQ+ Bazaar in Kongresni trg / Park Zvezda, which runs from 10:00 to 15:00 and should see various stalls presenting the work and goods of related organisations.
The parade itself gathers in Metelkova at 17:00, and at 18:00 will set out for an hour’s march around the streets of the city, taking in Masarykova, Dunajska cesta, Slovenska cesta and ending up in Kongresni Trg / Park Zvezda, the same as the afternoon bazaar. There you can expect speeches, music and more until 23:00, when attendees will break out into different groups to enjoy various parties and events around town. While the organisers are following the covid rules with regard to being tested, recovered or vaccinated, these are not required for attendees – but do bring a mask, and if have any paperwork, like a vaccination certificate or recent test, it’s probably a good idea to carry that too.
Časoris is an online newspaper aimed at children. Each week we’ll take an article and post it here as a Slovene-English dual text.
Nagovarjati moramo vse vrste raznolikosti
We need to address all kinds of diversity
Written by Sandra Hanžič, translated by JL Flanner & G Translate
Junija praznujemo mesec ponosa LGBTI+ skupnosti. V soboto se tako začne slovenski teden ponosa, ki se bo zaključil s tradicionalno parado.
In June, we celebrate the LGBTI + Community Pride Month. On Saturday, the Slovenian Pride Week begins, which will end with a traditional parade.
Ta mesec so izbrali, ker so se junija 1969 pripadniki skupnosti množično uprli diskriminaciji. A mnogi se še vedno soočajo z različnimi težavami.
This month was chosen because in June 1969, members of the community resisted discrimination as a group. But many still face various problems.
V Sloveniji so mladi žrtve nasilja doma, v šoli in javnem prostoru. Do njih se neprimerno obnašajo tudi v zdravstvenih in socialnih službah, ugotavlja Anže Jurček s fakultete za socialno delo, ki je sodeloval v evropskem projektu Raznolikost in otroštvo.
In Slovenia, young people are victims of violence at home, at school and in public. They are also treated inappropriately in health and social services, says Anže Jurček from the Faculty of Social Work, who participated in the European project Diversity and Childhood.
Velika večina gejev in lezbijk je še vedno žrtev nasilja. Med podatki iz leta 2003 (53,3 odstotka) in tistimi iz leta 2014 (50,3 odstotka) ni občutnih razlik. Zaskrbljujoče pa je večje nasilje v šolah. To se je podvojilo z 22 na 44 odstotkov.
The vast majority of gays and lesbians are still victims of violence. There are no significant differences between the data from 2003 (53.3 percent) and those from 2014 (50.3 percent). Worrying, however, is the greater violence in schools. This doubled from 22 to 44 percent.
Podobno ugotavljajo druge raziskave, ki so pokazale, da so vse LGBT+ osebe v veliki meri (40 odstotkov) deležne diskriminacije in nasilja v šolah.
Similarly, other surveys have found that among all LGBT + people a large proportion (40 percent) face discrimination and violence in schools.
V evropskem projektu Raznolikost in otroštvo so prepoznavali tudi različne vrste nasilja nad njimi.
The European project Diversity and Childhood also identified different types of violence against them.
Pogosta sta psihično nasilje in nesprejemanje mladih v domačem okolju, kar lahko vodi v mladoletno brezdomstvo.
Psychological violence and rejection of young people in the home environment are common, which can lead to youth homelessness.
Naleteli so tudi na dobre prakse. V eni od srednjih šol, denimo, izvajajo krožek, ki dijakom omogoča pogovor o teh temah.
They also came across good practices. In one of the high schools, for example, they run a group that allows students to talk about these topics.
Tudi sodelujoči v projektu menijo, da se je o teh temah treba čim več pogovarjati.
The participants in the project also believe that these topics should be discussed as much as possible.
Predlagajo še izobraževanje strokovnjakov, da bodo znali prepoznavati tovrstno nasilje in se odzivati nanj.
They also suggest educating professionals to be able to recognize and respond to this type of violence.
Ustanove pa morajo po njihovih priporočilih s programi in plakati sporočati, da v njihovih prostorih spoštujejo raznolikost in da se mladi pri njih lahko počutijo varne.
However, according to their recommendations, institutions must communicate through programs and posters that they respect diversity on their premises and that young people can feel safe with them.
STA, 8 June 2021 - The results of a survey by Legebitra, an advocacy group for LGBTI rights, have shown that schools are not safe spaces for members of the LGBT community. One in four LGBT students reported of having often heard homophobic remarks at school, and in more than half of the cases, school staff did not intervene.
In a study entitled LGBT Youth - Breaking the Silence in Schools, which was conducted in 2019, Slovenian LGBT students presented their experiences of discrimination at schools. The results showed that 11% of LGBT students did not intend to complete their secondary education.
According to the study, students who have often been targets of attacks and remarks because of their sexual orientation are less likely to continue their education. One in four surveyed LGBT students reported often hearing homophobic remarks at school.
Only 13% of respondents said that school staff always or almost always intervened when homophobic remarks were made, 54% of them reported that school staff never intervened, and 33% of students observed school staff intervening occasionally.
Meanwhile, 41% of LGBT students felt that school staff responses to reports of harassment or assault were ineffective. Only around 11% of students felt that school staff responded to reports of harassment or assault very effectively, while 48% of students felt that their intervention was somewhat effective.
Legebitra also warned in a press release that homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and sexist language and other prejudice-based remarks create an unsafe school environment that can lead to LGBT people not fulfilling their potential.
The study involved 602 people aged 16-21. The average age of the participants, who came from all regions of Slovenia, was 17.4 years.
STA, 11 December 2020 - The 36th Festival of LGBT Film brings 18 feature film and documentaries and 17 shorts, which will be available free of charge on the Cinesquare platform and via Vimeo from Saturday until 20 December.
Feature-length films will be available only in Slovenia, for 24-48 hours, and will be capped at 150 screenings, said Brane Mozetič of the ŠKUC Society, which organises the festival.
Three films for which the organisers have failed to obtain the green light for online screening are to be screened at the Slovenian Cinematheque when it reopens.
The short films will meanwhile be available online throughout the festival.
The festival brings several lesbian-themed films, including Germany's Between Summer and Fall, and Bonnie & Bonnie, as well as South Korea's Moonlight Winter.
Several films focus on LGBT activists, among them The Silent Generation, a documentary about repression in Franco's Spain, the onset of democracy and the LGBT+ movement.
A Slovenian short, Kondom na Glavo (Condom on the Head) meanwhile brings a story about HIV prevention.
Mozetič said at a recent news conference that the festival had been featuring an increasing number of films about transsexual and intersexual topics.
This year both opening-night films - Italy's A Man Must Be Strong and Australia's Unsound focus on them.
The gay film selection meanwhile brings Canada's Saint-Narcisse, which won an award at this year's Venice Film Festival.
The international jury's award and the award for best Slovenian film will not be given out this year, the later due to an insufficient number of entries.
However, film viewers will be able to rate the films on Cinesquare and the winner is to be screened once again at the Cinematheque.
The accompanying programme will feature an online workshop for film critics and a talk with some of the film directors.
The Cinesquare page is here
STA, 25 September 2020 - The Ljubljana Pride Parade to be held on Saturday is marking two decades since the first protest rally against homophobia was staged in the capital. The LGBTIQ+ community has managed to secure a number of rights since, but its members still do not live as equals in Slovenian society and homophobic discourse is on the rise again.
The roots of the Ljubljana Pride Parade date back to 8 June 2001 when gay poets Brane Mozetič and Jean Paul Daoust were denied entry into the then Cafe Galerija bar in the centre of the city.
Not receiving an apology and formal condemnation, activists first responded to the incident with an initiative involving slow and protracted drinking of mineral water at the bar and then with a rally that was held on 6 July to evolve into the first official Pride Parade a year later.
These events and the path walked since were remembered at several events in June, including with a mineral water drinking debate at the scene of the original sin, an exhibition on 20 years of the Ljubljana Pride Parade, a literary evening and concert, a symposium on LGBTIQ+ rights and web panels on rights in healthcare, legislation, social protection and social inclusion.
The president of Ljubljana Pride Parade Society Simona Muršec has told the STA that members of the LGBTIQ+ community have empowered themselves in the past 20 years, but inequalities persist. Also, they reveal their sexual orientation more frequently, even in the countryside, but reactions have become stronger as well.
"Unfortunately the general mindset is deteriorating. We see, notice and feel an increase in hate speech. There is an increase in very extreme forms of rejecting even the right to LGBTIQ+ individuals existing, let alone to them revealing themselves publicly," Muršec said.
She meanwhile sees the changes that have happened within the community in the last 20 years as one of the main achievements. LGBTIQ+ representatives and activists are better organised today and organisations promote different groups. While the focus 20 years ago was mostly on the needs of gay people, trans and intersex persons are also represented today.
There is practically no local environment today that would not feature LGBTIQ+ members, Muršec said, adding "this is a major step, as 20 years ago a great majority of the countryside still lived in the conviction that such people are not among us or need to stay hidden".
As for key legal gains, Muršec highlighted the civil union act from 2016, which regulates same-sex partnership. "The struggle for this was long and is not finished yet, since a civil union is not yet equalised with marriage."
More and more people are deciding for formal status and LGBTIQ+ members are using legal means. "By getting new practices and legal procedures, it becomes easier to fight for equal treatment," Muršec added.
Equal treatment is one of the fields that the community still wants addressed, with Muršec noting that the attitudes of, say the Ljubljana and Maribor administrative units, to procedures initiated by same-sex couples may still differ.
Returning to people's attitudes in the street and other public institutions, Muršec said LGBTIQ+ persons in small towns still face discrimination, while the school is often a cruel environment as well.
One of the main legal fields highlighted as still discriminatory by LGBTIQ+ members is healthcare and access to health services. Muršec said many still do not get treated in a proper and dignified manner, while she also mentioned the fight for equal access to artificial insemination.
As for social security, she noted that the coronacrisis exacerbated the housing issue of many young LGBTIQ+ individuals, with student homes and meeting points closing. "The general mantra was: go home," said Muršec, while stressing the family is often the primary environment of rejection for LGBTIQ+ individuals.
The community meanwhile also sees the need to join forces with other social struggles. "We cannot pretend that, say, the attack on media freedom is not connected to us," she said, pointing to the example of Poland where LGBTIQ+ persons are being dehumanised and used ideologically in the media for scaremongering.
Saturday sees the culmination of a month of covid-compliant activities staking out the place of the LGBTQ+ community and all who support love, tolerance and respect in Slovenia, with the annual Pride Parade. To deal with the current restrictions there will be 10 smaller gatherings and rallies, but the main focus will still be the parade, which will follow the route shown below.
It all starts at YC Legebitra, at the far end of Trubarjeva cesta, 76a, by Rog. People will gather there at 16:00, but won’t start walking until 17:00. The route will take you through town and then back the Metelkova at around 20:00. There’s an afterparty at Pritličje that starts at the same time and is being broadcast on Radio Študent, so you can play along at home.
STA, 1 May 2020 - LGBT+ rights NGOs have had to adapt their services to the current extreme circumstances to help contain the Covid-19 spread. Activists are aware that preventive measures are key but also warn that lockdown restrictions have resulted in the loss of safe spaces and aggravated the community's situation.
"The closure of physical social spaces is definitely restricting safe spaces available to LGBTI persons. Most notably that affects those who have had to return to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic environments; unfortunately a lot of parents or guardians are still not accepting of LGBTI persons, even when those persons are their family members," Lana Gobec, the head of the Legebitra NGO, has told the STA.
Quite a few youths have turned to the organisation for support after university dorms were shut down, for they were unable to return to their primary environments either because they had strained relations with their parents or guardians or because they were not allowed to return due to their sexual orientation and/or identity.
"Following the intervention by student organisations, university dorms were then reopened for those who have no other accommodation options," added Gobec, highlighting that this was not the case for persons residing in secondary school dormitories, who are hence often left with only an option of going back to discriminatory and potentially violent environments.
Legebitra can assist in such cases by helping the person seek shelter in a safe house.
The results of the 2019 Eurobarometer on the social acceptance of LGBT+ people in the EU show that 32% of Slovenians would feel totally uncomfortable if one of their potential children was in a romantic relationship with a person of the same sex as the offspring.
In the case of them being in a relationship with a transgender person or intersex person that figure dominates at 39% or 37%, respectively.
Institute TransAkcija, the first Slovenian trans-specific NGO, has warned that the Covid-19 crisis has been highlighting and deepening the gap between the privileged centre and marginalised minorities.
"First and foremost, I believe that the anti-crisis measures have been drawn up in such a way that most of them require a certain privilege from the get-go, so that a conscientious citizen could heed them.
"#StayHome, for example, sure, naturally, but what if one does not have a home? Or one does have a bed, but in an extremely toxic environment? The measures are primarily drawn up for persons whose circumstances stem from a number of normative groups, while minorities are, as always, faced with situations that require self-organisation," Linn Julian Koletnik, the founder and head of TransAkcija, has told the STA.
They have also pointed out that only a handful of spaces in Ljubljana are available to the LGBT+ community and almost zero elsewhere. The current circumstances have only aggravated the situation.
"Community spaces mean safer spaces where people can relax and express themselves the way they are; so many are struggling now because those spaces are missing. But there are online efforts aiming to maintain the sense of community, which is great."
Various factors, including a temporary loss of physical safe spaces and rejections experienced in primary environments, have exacerbated mental health problems for some, with LGBT+ persons being more likely to struggle with mental health in general, according to numerous international studies.
Individuals who seek help via Legebitra support and counselling programmes and were residing in dormitories prior to the introduction of the measures have been reporting intensified feelings of anxiety, gender dysphoria and depressive moods.
Such reports have been coming mostly from younger members of the community who are not enjoying the support of their families, since their parents are not accepting their sexual identities, Gobec has highlighted. Legebitra believes that many more LGBT+ persons face similar difficulties.
The organisation has not detected any increase in various types of violence against LGBT+ persons so far, however it has warned that the lack of such information could be misleading, since not only risk factors are multiplied during times of crisis but also it is more difficult to access mental health services.
Moreover, the community has been facing prejudices and stigmatisation regardless of the crisis, which may also result in suffering abuse and violence. Experts have been pointing out that if reported, which is quite rarely the case, such incidents are not recorded separately as hate crimes against the LGBT+ community and are thus not reflected in statistical data.
The 2019 Universal Periodic Review report on the situation of LGBT+ persons in Slovenia, which was sent to the United Nations by several organisations, including Legebitra and TransAkcija, shows that in the five years leading up to 2019, 60% of LGBT+ survey respondents were victims of harassment.
Almost a third did not report the worst incident to the police since they believed that nothing would change because of that. More than 20% experienced physical and/or sexual violence and those were even less likely to report the crimes.
Many users of TransAkcija counselling and support services also report about amplified struggles during the epidemic in the wake of their environments rejecting them. Some trans or non-binary persons are not out in their primary environments or they are not accepted and are hence not able to safely use their actual names or pronouns and express themselves in line with their identities, explained Koletnik.
Moreover, LGBT+ persons struggle more with unemployment compared to the general population, which may lead to some doing sex work, said Koletnik. Sex workers are currently faced with even more serious troubles.
If they are forced to continue working amid the epidemic due to their socio-economic situation, "they are considerably exposing themselves to the risk of getting infected with the novel coronavirus. Also, they have zero workers' rights," added Koletnik.
Both organisations have restricted their services to non-personal forms of communication due to the epidemic. TransAkcija continues to provide support online, using Jitsi for video-counselling, a platform that is, according to the organisation, safe and easy to use - features that are essential but not ubiquitous in helping vulnerable social groups, Koletnik said.
The institute has mainly strived for transforming its programmes in such a way so as to acknowledge the trans-specific needs.
"Transgender persons who wanted to or were in line to initiate the medical transitioning process have now had to postpone that for an indefinite time, which certainly extremely negatively affects their mental health since the process duration has been found to be the primary cause for mental health issues among trans persons, according to a study," said Koletnik.
Meanwhile, Legebitra has launched an online youth centre after closing the only such facility in the physical world, mainly intended for LGBT+ persons. Using digital technologies, the organisation carries on with all of its support and educational services, including supporting individuals living with HIV and providing legal counsel.
Gobec has pointed out that many members of the community were seeking support already prior to the crisis, with Legebitra detecting a considerable increase in counselling requests in the LGBT+ community in the past few years.
All our stories on the LGBTQ+ community and Slovenia are here