A Serbian Orthodox teacher is being prosecuted by the Belgrade court for his positions in favor of the traditional family
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Vladimir Dimitrijević, Ph.D. in philological sciences and high school teacher, known for his stance in favor of the traditional family, is the subject of a complaint filed by an LGBT association before the Court of Belgrade and the Commissioner for the protection of the equality of the Republic of Serbia (see here).

In the two incriminated articles, the author had opposed, as an Orthodox Christian, the presentation of homosexuality as a “norm”, citing texts from Scripture, from the Fathers of the Church, and from the text on the “Bases of the social conception of the Russian Orthodox Church”. He insisted on the consequences of a policy encouraging this sexual orientation.

A petition has been written, here is the English translation:

“Serbian Orthodox essayist Vladimir Dimitrijević, Ph.D. in philological sciences and professor at Čačak High School, renowned for his work even beyond the borders of Serbia, is the subject of a legal action brought by the association “Dasezna” [Let it be known]”, which deals with the protection of LGBT rights.

The Prosecutor requests the court to establish that Dr. Vladimir Dimitrijević, “in a text on the Defense of the Natural Family published on his website on January, 12 2018 and in the text “Response to the complaint of the defender of LGBTs or ‘As long as there is one hundred’” dated May 30, 2018, committed a form of serious discrimination: the repeated discrimination of male and female members of the LGBT population, based on sexual orientation”.

According to the prosecutor, Dr. Vladimir Dimitrijević committed a discriminatory act by publishing conclusions from negative elements of texts concerning the social consequences of the political propaganda of homosexuality, written by world-renowned authors in the field of social sciences, listed in the complaint, namely Allan C. Carlson, Slobodan Antonić, and Natalia Narochnitskaya.

In accordance with this interpretation of the law, the prosecutor asks the court to order Mr. Vladimir Dimitrijević to remove the texts from his website and to forbid him to publish any similar statements anywhere.

Such an action clearly shows that the prosecutor intends to prevent the public expression, with the help of the court, of an opinion different from that of the group he represents.

With this in mind, we affirm that only in totalitarian regimes, can State courts interfere in the realm of human conscience and, with the help of coercive means funded by all citizens, impose the “official opinion” of a person. In a liberal and pluralist democracy, not only the authority of the State, represented by the courts, is absolutely excluded from the inner sphere of the human conscience (forum internum), but also every citizen is guaranteed the undisputed right to communicate his or her opinion freely. Freedom of expression and the right to free critical thought are sealed in the very foundations of a democratic society and, with the freedom of thought and expression, all other political rights are implemented. It must be recalled that the practice of the European Court of Human Rights clearly confirms that the guarantee of freedom of expression “applies not only to “information” or” ideas” that are favorably received or considered harmless or neutral. but also to those which offend, shock or disturb the State or any part of the population. Such are the demands of pluralism, tolerance and the spirit of openness, without which there is no “democratic society” (Handyside v. The United Kingdom, December 7, 1976).

On the contrary, the judicial proceedings against Mr. Vladimir Dimitrijević show a return to the “verbal offense” of Broz’s unique thought [Tito, TN]. Therefore, even thirty years after the renewal of political pluralism in Serbia, we must remember the remarkable words of the founding act of the famous Committee for the Defense of Freedom of Thought and Expression in 1984 (created in Yugoslavia by writer Dobrica Čosić): “Freedom of thought and expression is not the property, the gift, and the privilege of groups, parties and state authorities. This freedom and this right belong to all humanity, so that their implementation or jeopardizing pertains to the spirit and conscience of all the citizens of the social community”.

The proceedings pending before another State body, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, against Dr. Vladimir Dimitrijević, following the complaint of the association Dasezna, has unfortunately shown that the natural right to freedom of opinion and expression does not belong to everyone in democratic Serbia.

In deciding that Vladimir Dimitrijević had performed a discriminatory act in writing against the LGBT population, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality (or non-equality) had clearly stated that freedom of thought and expression was denied to the vast majority of Serbian citizens sharing a traditional view of sexuality, marriage, and children.

This decision of the Commissioner for the protection of (non) equality against one of the strongest and most prominent forums of the “silent” majority with Dr. Vladimir Dimitrijević, prompted us, as the conscience of this “silent” majority, to pursue the proceedings brought against it.

From now on, we are telling the public opinion of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the competent court, that the trial in which Mr. Dimitrijević is judged for his precious positions is perceived as a condemnation of our inalienable right, given by God, to freedom of thought and expression.

Just as Voltaire called the “court of public opinion” to follow the trial of Jean Calas, we hereby invite all the citizens of the Republic of Serbia to closely monitor the trial of the freedom of thought and expression against one of us.

Judicial proceedings against Mr Vladimir Dimitrijević show that Alexis de Tocqueville’s warning is still current: it will depend only on us, the citizens of the Republic of Serbia, whether we want ‘a liberal or an oppressive republic, a republic that threatens the sacred rights of property and of the family, or a republic that recognizes and sanctifies them.”

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About the Author

Emma Cazabonne

Emma Cazabonne

Beside an anthology on Cistercian texts, Emma Cazabonne has translated and published articles on Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She converted to Orthodoxy in 2008. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. If you are interested in having your book translated into French, she can be contacted here https://wordsandpeace.com/contact-me/

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