Friday, October 15, 2010

Clinton Again Omits Serb Gays
From Balkan Talk

On Monday I blogged about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's meeting with Serbian President Boris Tadic, and how she avoided using the word gay and failed to cite the bravery of the gay marchers at Sunday's pride march in Belgrade.

Wednesday's New York Times reported that Clinton was asked a gay-related question at town hall forum in Kosovo. (The kind of forums HRC/GLAAD/NGLTF/Gay Inc refuse to hold with the community they represent, but I digress.)

I checked the State Department page for Clinton's remarks during her Balkan visit, and found the transcript of the pertinent town hall, with the exchange about the gay Belgrade march, emphasis added:

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, it’s an honor to have you amongst us. My name is Engjellushe Morina and I speak for Kosovar Stability Initiative, a think tank based here in Pristina.

I have a question, if I may, and it’s related to your declaration last night in Serbia, your press statement. You said that Serbia will be not just an EU member state, but a leading EU member state. Now, this is a country where right wing extreme groups are alive and kicking. Only a few hours later, the – Serbia’s nationals destructed a football game in Genoa in Italy. A few days earlier, half of the capital was almost demolished to pieces because of the gay parade. This is a country with territorial appetites. Its president went to visit Milorad Dodik in Bosnia during electoral campaign. And I am just wondering, is it not too early to pamper Serbia? Because to be blunt, I just shiver at the thought of Serbia as a loose cannon again. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the idea of Serbia being in the European Union is one of the ways to prevent your fears from being realized.[...]

Now, I thought it was very important that the Serbian police defended the marchers in the pride parade on Sunday. If you remember some years ago when there was a pride parade in Belgrade, the police did not defend the marchers. This time, they stood for the rights of people in a very vulnerable population to stand up for themselves. That was a big change. In fact, the police were the ones who were injured by the extremist protestors. You cannot, I don’t think, judge what the future will hold until we see it unfold. [...]

This omission marks the second time she addressed the gay pride march, and failed to utter the word gay. It's almost as if she was coached by State's Balkan diplomats to studiously not say it. Maybe she thinks pride is enough of a code word for her domestic gay audience and the elites attending her town hall, but it's not okay in my book to have the hostilities faced by the Belgrade gay parade marchers broached, and then made vague by the Secretary.

It is of prime importance and crucial visibility that she speak the word gay in the Balkans, and not engage in verbal contortions. Indeed, if Clinton can single out the gay community as a "vulnerable population," an assessment I agree with, she has a duty to clearly articulate and identify that population.

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