By Vanja Djuric
LGBT campaigners allege that the latest promotional video for PM Aleksandar Vucic’s presidential campaign breaches the law on advertising because it uses a derogatory term for gays.
A collective of Serbian LGBT NGOs called Da se zna (Let it be Known) have sent an official complaint to Serbian Regulatory Body for Electronic Media, REM, alleging that the latest promotional video released by Aleksandar Vucic in his campaign for the presidency contains offensive speech.
The video shows Vucic in a bar being quizzed by a young man about the achievements of his government. Each time Vucic lists a success, everyone in the bar raises their glasses.
At the end of the video, a TV in the corner of the bar is broadcasting a football match and fans can be heard shouting “Vucic, faggot!”
The video aims to mock an incident in October 2014, when football fans chanted the phrase at an incident-marred international match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade.
Dragoslava Barzut from Da se zna told BIRN that the video promotes homophobic language and urged the REM to take action.
“We think that the ruling [Progressive] party [led by Vucic], which supports European values, should not bring vocabulary stigmatising LGBT people into political discourse,” Barzut said.
Milos Stojkovic, a lawyer who participated in drafting the laws on advertising, electronic communications and electronic media, said that Vucic’s video contravenes the Law on Advertising, which says that adverts cannot spread hate or intolerance.
“This specific message has the potential to be offensive to people of an alternative sexual orientation; aggressive chants [of this phrase] could be offensive to the LGBT community,” Stojkovic told BIRN.
Stojkovic says that if a TV station broadcasts the video, the REM should take action on its own, not just to react to complaints.
If the video is only seen online, the trade ministry’s market inspection unit should sanction it, he said.
He said the unit should ask YouTube to remove the video because of the offensive wording, and also order the removal of the offensive wording from the clip.
Neither Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party nor the REM responded to BIRN’s questions regarding the video by the time of publication.
The REM has told news website Insajder that it has not made any specific decision about monitoring the presidential election campaign, but if anyone complains, it will consider their grievance.
The REM is obliged to ensure that broadcast media obey the law during the election campaign.
It has no legal powers to punish violations, but must report them to the state Anti-Corruption Agency.
The REM told Insajder that it still hasn’t published its monitoring report on the last elections in April 2016 because it is understaffed.
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