I’d like to take you on a journey…

My name is Alex Cooper, I’ll be blogging about the research I’ve been working on this summer on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) non-governmental organizations in Serbia.  As my first post, I thought it would be a good thing to explain why I began this research and how the research has evolved over the past two months.

 

I started getting interested in Eastern Europe in high school, and this interest eventually led to me taking some courses offered in the government department on Eastern European politics when I came to The College, taught by Professor Paula Pickering (who is now my government advisor).

 

My involvement with nonprofit organizations in the Williamsburg and Petersburg, Virginia areas also led me to question how NGOs are ran in Eastern Europe.  The combination of coursework and nonprofit experience acted as the foundation for my interests in Eastern European NGOs.  Taking courses taught by Professor Paula Pickering also solidified this interest of merging my desire to work with nonprofits with my regional interests in Eastern Europe.

 

Initially, my research was meant to be a comparative study of LGBT NGOs in Prague, Czech Republic and Belgrade, Serbia.  Both were post-Communist countries, but with very different approaches to the LGBT community.  The Czech Republic passed a bill providing legal benefits and rights to same-sex relationships, similar to marriage in 2006.  And, when I met with some of the leaders of the LGBT social movement of the early 1990s, they explained to me that over 80% of Czechs approved of same-sex relationships.  Moreover, such a high acceptance meant that there wasn’t a great need for NGOs working on LGBT rights.  Currently, the organizations that do work in the field (and only one main one, PROUD, does much work) are lobbying for same-sex couples to be able to adopt together.

 

The situation in Serbia is very different.

 

I spent 5 weeks in Prague before moving to Belgrade where I began and internship and continued with my research.  My second day on the job, I went to a press conference where local LGBT organizations and the Council of Europe sat on a panel to discuss research recently released showing that 62% of the Serbian population do not believe LGBT persons should have special legal protections (i.e. anti-discrimination laws).  This led me to change focus to look solely at Serbia’s NGOs rather than completing a comparative study.

 

I’m currently gearing up to analyze my research thus far, so sick back, relax, and enjoy the ride as I attempt to explain the complexity that is LGBT NGOs in Serbia.

Comments

  1. jkfsummer2012 says:

    Your research sounds very interesting. I would not have expected there to be such a discrepancy in opinions among the countries that you studied. It certainly highlights the differences in culture among eastern European countries.