Transgender visibility highlighted as Serbia held the first ever trans beauty contest in Belgrade April 23.
Contestants were judged on “charm, makeup, clothes and attitude”.
The seven-member jury was presided over by Ordana Mitrovic, a transsexual activist known here for publicly pleading the minority’s case on the state-run RTS television last year.
Boban Stojanovic, a key figure in the organisation of Belgrade Gay Pride parades, praised the candidates’ courage and stressed he was “extremely honoured to be part of the historic moment.”
“This is a huge step forward to see people who are not activists stepping out from the shadow and having the courage to be who they are,” he told AFP.
“Maybe it does no appear so, but it is an event of a great political importance.”
“I came here to live a new experience, but, above all, to have fun. Of course, I also had in mind the common struggle for our rights,” the radiant brunette told AFP.
A very courageous thing to do, a political statement, a beauty contest.
In 2010 the LGBT 1,000 strong pride was attacked by 6,000 anti-gay protesters, Orthodox Christians and extreme nationalist groups in what is now know as the “Belgrade anti-gay riot”. Pride Parades weren’t held again until 2014 but was only attended by 200 marchers who were guarded by 5000 riot police.
A 2008 poll indicated that over 80% of the population considered homosexuality a crime against nature. Although it remains to be seen how much real progress the country has made, transgender people have been offered legal protections.
Quite surprisingly Serbia is considered a hub for gender confirmation surgery.
The violence perpetrated against LGBT pride in years before orchestrated by orthodox priests.