CoE says ban on IVF for homosexuals in Serbia since 2019

Frederick Florin/AFP

The Council of Europe said in a report released on Wednesday that homosexuals in Serbia have been banned from undergoing artificial insemination procedures in the country, effectively preventing them from having children.

“In August of 2019 the Serbian Ministry of Health imposed a ban on artificial insemination and IVF, for anyone who has a history of homosexual relations duringt he last five years,“ the report said, quoting the ILGA-Europe NGO. The report titled Protecting LGBTI people in the context of rising anti-LGBTI hate speech and discrimination: The role of local and regional authoritieswas presented to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities  Current Affairs Committee.

“Members of same-sex couples are thereby prevented from donating biological material for invitro fertilization or artificial insemination to each other, to other same-sex couples, and to heterosexual couples. It was noted that, taken together with Serbia’s other laws on marriage and reproductive rights, the decree effectively bans same-sex couples from having children unless they travel abroad to undergo the necessary medical procedures,” the report by Andrew BOFF and Yoomi RENSTROM said.

The report also warned of hate speech which it said is common despite a law which specifically bans it. “In Serbia the law is in place, but hate speech is common by MPs, church leaders, public officials, the media, and on social media alike, especially around Pride marches,” the report said. It recalled a protest by the local authorities in the city of Cacak against any content which includes homosexuality and paedophilia on TV stations with national coverage, claiming that it offends the dignity of the Serbian Orthodox Church and other traditional religious communities and has a negative effect on young generations.

According to the report, Serbian high school and university medical school textbooks “are influenced by the old World Health Organization classification of homosexuality” even though the WHO removed it as a disease. “According to NGOs some some psychotherapists still consider homosexuality of their patients as a medical or psychiatric problem”, the report said.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and her same-sex partner had a baby by IVF in February 2019. According to unofficial reports which were never denied, Brnabic’s partner underwent the procedure abroad.