Stefan Šparavalo

I started in activism after I both realised I am a part of the LGBT community and when felt empowered enough to enter into the public domain. And I might say this was the turning point to me — coming out, feeling safe and comfortable enough to speak and fight not just for myself but for others as well, who are not feeling courageous enough or do not have the opportunities I might have.

The heart of our organisation DaSeZna is an online platform where you can report anonymously if you are being harassed, discriminated or attacked due to your sexual orientation or gender identity. This matters because there is a huge social distance separating the relevant authorities from LGBT victims of violence. Even though the Criminal Code considers hate crimes (in terms of race and religion as well as sexual orientation) to be aggravated incidents, no verdict has ever been reached that drew on this law, even though we witness anti-LGBT attacks quite often. So we want to map, document and reach out to the victims of these crimes, as well as engaging the authorities in order to improve the condition surrounding LGBT rights.

The main focal point of our work is the safety of LGBT citizens: that is the most precise indicator of conditions for LGBT people in a given society. We are fighting for the current legal framework to be implemented and upgraded. We are struggling for more sensitive institutions and competent authorities that will deal with the victims properly, catch and sentence the perpetrators. The current legal framework might be seen as good, but it lacks implementation. Our first step should be overcoming that discrepancy.

Honestly, I have no role models in my activism nor particular figures I should learn from. The main inspiration of my work is my beloved team who is struggling each day along with me. When you feel strong, share your strength with others. I would not like to say that I’m aiming for something abstract like “full equality”. I am focused more on closer and completely achievable goals — such as the passing of the first verdict to include the hate crime article, or greater political will from the police in curbing widespread homophobia.