Serbia and Montenegro: We want democracy, not theocracy!

Zene u crnom/Women in Black - Beograd/Belgrade
Public announcement on the occasion of the introduction of the Law on churches and religious communities into parliamentary procedure.
Women in Black is protesting because the last version of the Law on churches and religious communities was introduced into the parliamentary procedure without public discussion.
This is the continuation of the process of clericalization in Serbia, which is very destructive for democracy. The current government has let the Serbian Orthodox Church become an important political factor. If this law passes, it would become an important economic force as well.

We will mention some of the most unacceptable provisions in the proposed law:
  • The right to freedom of religion does not include citizens’ right to not have religious beliefs, and to express those freely and assemble to demonstrate that;
  • This proposal establishes unequal treatment of different religious organizations, by introducing the concept of ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ churches and religious communities;
  • The law inconsistently exempts religious communities from paying taxes, while enabling them carrying out economic activities;
  • This law does not allow of the Ministry of Education to monitor the books, curriculum, teaching, and practice of religious classes in state schools;
  • This law, in delineating the limits of religious freedom, does not prohibit the violation of women’s human rights and does not protect women from the misuse of their reproductive and sexual rights by the religious organizations.
The entire law seriously questions the separation of church and state, guaranteed by the Constitution, and seriously threatens the state’s secular character.

We expect that the representatives in the Serbian parliament will accept comments and suggestions, both of from organizations and voters, and we hope that the public will understand the importance of the suggested amendments, created by numerous non-governmental organizations and experts.

To bring attention to these issues, the Women in Black Network from all of Serbia will organize public protest on Friday, April 7, in 13h at the Republic Square.

Women in Black, Belgrade
April 6, 2006