Friday, August 26, 2016

At Large

Curing 'Homosexualism' In Belgrade

Gay-rights acivists march in a gay-pride parade in Belgrade on October 10. Mirojlub Petrovic says he can "cure" gays with his "original medicine."
Gay-rights acivists march in a gay-pride parade in Belgrade on October 10. Mirojlub Petrovic says he can "cure" gays with his "original medicine."
When I heard that a Serbian doctor, Mirojlub Petrovic, was opening a clinic in Belgrade to "cure" homosexuality, my ears perked up. I've long been fascinated by scientific research into the causes of sexual orientation, as well as the attempts by some to change their sexuality (I even attended an "ex-gay" conference in North Carolina not long ago on a reporting assignment).

But in the United States, such movements tend to be explicitly religious in nature (the event I attended was organized by an evangelical Christian organization that specifically recommended prayer as a solution). Though there is a marginalized (and medically discredited) "reparative therapy" movement that attempts to put a more scientific gloss on its methods, individuals who claim that they can change someone else's sexual orientation tend not to offer the solution in the form of a magic potion.

Petrovic, a practitioner of something called "original medicine," is different. I interviewed him earlier this month in Belgrade, where I happened to be covering the city's first-ever successful gay-rights march (which occurred alongside a riot against security forces resulting in $1.4 million worth of damage).

Miroljub Petrovic on Montenegrin TV
"The problem of homosexualism," Petrovic informed me, has been an issue in Serbia since at least last year, when a planned gay-rights march was canceled at the last minute over police concerns that far-right groups would use violence to disrupt the event. His cause was given new force earlier this year when the Serbian government announced its support for the parade, and declared that it would deploy 5,000 police officers to ensure it transpired peacefully (which, aside from the massive rioting in other parts of the city, it did).

The medical establishment has it all wrong, Petrovic explains to me. Original medicine "solves the problem of the cause of illness, not to treat its symptoms." This involves the acceptance of "good habits" and the rejection of "bad habits." A slogan of the movement is that there are "no incurable diseases, only incurable people." When I asked, incredulously, if Petrovic could cure cancer, he replied, "Of course" (perhaps I should alert my friend Christopher Hitchens, suffering from esophageal cancer, to get on the next plane to Belgrade).

Petrovic is not a doctor, however, as has been reported in Serbian and some foreign media. He has a bachelor's of science certificate from an American outfit calling itself the International Institute of Original Medicine, which offers students the chance to become a "Certified Medical Missionary in Original Medicine."

How does Petrovic and his team ("me and my friends," as he describes them) claim to cure homosexuality? Quite simply: Patients must cut out junk food from their diet, "drink a lot of water," "reject anything that is diarrhetic, alcohol, caffeine," engage in "physical activity," "rest [at] appropriate times." Plus, one "must think about good things." Oh, and receive regular enemas.

When I asked if Petrovic had any success stories, he replied in the affirmative, and that he has received a flood of new patients "especially in the last two weeks" because of the publicity surrounding the march. In Petrovic's eyes, he isn't just curing gays of an affliction; he's saving them from a possible death sentence. Though he acknowledges that "you cannot execute homosexuals" at this point, he supports a system that would ultimately give gays a choice: change your behavior or face the death penalty.

It didn't take long for me to uncover something about Petrovic that has yet to be reported: he is an acknowledged theocrat who desires a political system in which a king would dispense divinely inspired justice. "In democracy we can vote and we can legalize any kind of destructive way of living. So now we have junk food, tobacco and alcohol -- poisons -- legalized, and we are going to legalize marijuana, homosexualism, and there is no end." He is the author of a book, "Basics of Theocracy," that sets out this antidemocratic vision.

Anyway, if you want a chuckle -- never mind a depressing view into what passes for popular opinion about homosexuality in much of the world, from Belgrade to Tehran -- give the interview a listen:

Tags: gay rights

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Agolmar from: Madrid
October 19, 2010 14:09
It's a reminiscence of Communism. Throughout Europe you will find atheists and ex Communist who hark to the Marist-Freudian view of homosexuality as narcisism and/or bourgeois decadence. So much for European sophistication as opposed to American philistinism.
In Response

by: abvgd from: Canada
October 22, 2010 02:21
Homosexuals appear frequently and openly in Serbian media discussing their issues and not one of them has been attacked for that simple reason, even though they are known by their full names and even though they have their easily identifiable organizations. The issue here was simply the "in your face" approach and that it was seen as having political undertones. The main issue was in fact that a few extreme liberal politicians and some liberal media had somehow managed to make this parade the central political issue of the week or month in the country (despite far more relevant issues) and had even managed to get some liberals in the government to donate state funds and participate themselves in this manifestation.

As for you friend Christopher Hitchens, I think that if he decided to take the next flight to Serbia nobody would beat him up or harm him despite the fact that he personally and very passionately agitated for the bombing and destruction of Serbia as well as the killing of innocent Serbian civilians. I for one though hope that he will not find any cure for his disease as his death will mean one less warmonger in the international press. His biggest current concern seems to be not his health but the fact that he may not live to see an attack on Iran. The world will surely be better off without this friend of yours and as for you, reading this "freudian" article of yours I'm not so sure that you're any better than him (which would explain your friendship) ..

by: Lucrezia from: Belgrade
October 19, 2010 14:53
A different voice from Belgrade

I would say that the headline is a little bit pretentious. And comparing Belgrade to Tehran isn't just unfair, it's malicious. Belgrade has always been an open-minded city despite the rioting hooligans, whom you can find in any other country. Those people just need an excuse to make havoc, be it a gay parade or a football match.
If you write about an individual with backward and silly ideas, why defaming the city, and thus the whole country?
Unlike other European countries, we can not be blamed for racism, not even for sexism. If you blame us for being prejudiced, which is to say ignorant, well, that's what you get when you isolate one country from the whole world for almost two decades.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 20, 2010 03:54
Belgrade and the rest of Serbia minus Kosovo is more tolerant than Albanian dominated Pristina and much of the rest of Kosovo - something that's not PC for RFE/RL to be keen on noting.

With relative objectivity, one can find kooked out views among some Croats and Bosnian Muslims - again something that's not PC for RFE/RL to be keen on noting.

In Response

by: David from: USA
October 20, 2010 09:43
If "rioting hooligans" (as one commenter put it), akin to a virtual hate mob, is an example of Belgrade tolerance, you have a very generous definition of the word. Moreover, note that this article was not about Croats or Bosnian Muslims, it was about this one particular "doctor's" views, so why this article should delve into how the Croats or any other group thinks is outside the scope. Nevertheless, the article does allude to popular opinion in other countries "in much of the world" as depressing.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 20, 2010 20:00
David, you appear unaware of RFE/RL's heavy -handed slant against Serbs.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Auckland
October 21, 2010 08:47
David, you should be aware of BS Busters hatred of all non-slavs in general, and non-serbs in the FY in particular.

His war crimes denial is fairly sickening to read.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 21, 2010 12:20
The misinformative anti-Serb and anti-Russian troll posting as Andrew chimes in again with tripe.

by: LH from: USA
October 19, 2010 20:54
This very provincial liberal writer continues to miss the world at large for his predictable prejudices. Consider the following about the US, a country he barely knows better than Serbia. The majority of Americans do not view "homosexuality" as normal, are members of faiths that condemn "homosexuality" as sinful , know that not all homosexuals are unable to change, repeatedly vote down the legalization of gay marriage. Should we re-phrase his silly comment to Washington to Teheran? Of course not. The variations of cultural attitudes around the world to homosexuality deserve better writing than this highly personal travel diary. Serbia need not adopt the cultural values of Amsterdam or Teheran. It's called diversity. Serbia can rightly resist the EU's constant unilateral demands. It's called independence. Diversity and independence. Who's being "open-minded" by demanding Serbia conform to their foreign values?
In Response

by: David from: USA
October 20, 2010 09:49
Actually, it's called hate and ignorance. I don't recall there being any recent examples of hate mobs in the USA preventing an LGBT march. In fact, LGBT pride parades are quite popular in almost every state. While you may not believe Serbia needs to adopt the views of any other nation, whether those views be positive or negative, the writer is certainly entitled to add his voice to the struggle for equality, particularly if there are those who would advocate a "change or die" philosophy for homosexuals.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 20, 2010 20:01
FYI David, Gays aren't allowed to officially march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 20, 2010 12:47
The neocon/neolib pushed Serb government does more to protect a noticeably foreign influenced paradein Belgrade than it does for its own citizens - who've been victimized by the ethnic chauvinism of others.
In Response

by: Gordon Geise from: Washington, DC, USA
October 20, 2010 14:41
Yes, well, the majority of Americans are also well known to be drooling idiots.
In Response

by: leciat from: usa
October 22, 2010 15:16
all except you of course...isn't america lucky that is has at least one intellectual elite …such a shame…you must get lonely high upon your pedestal

by: Marc from: New York
October 19, 2010 21:02
What a quack. How to use homosexuals at a frail moment in time, when they are starting to make a social stand and are the more under siege for it, offering a so-called cure and turning insecurity into a business. Secretly he probably enjoys giving those enemas, while he's at it. I can't even bare to listen to the actual interview.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 20, 2010 12:49
Someone with a reasoned opposition to neolib and neocon biases against Serbia could've been inteviewed instead.

There's a reason why this hasn't happened.

by: Sergiy Matyushenko from: Denmark
October 20, 2010 08:04
Miroljub Petrovic is a total idiot. I bet James Kirchik got a huge kick out of conducting the interview. This is precious, I mean it, every word of it. Vicious nonsense, never heard anything of this level. Wow, man, I can't really believe I'm hearing it (right now listening to the interview). My English fails me, I just lack vocabulary. I sincerely hope Miroljub Petrovic will get colorectal cancer - then he'll get a chance to practice on himself. I hope esteemed censorship will find my comment no more "libelous, defamatory, obscene, indecent, abusive, violent, pornographic, threatening, harassing, discriminatory or that constitutes hate speech or is illegal" than the things articulated by Miroljub Petrovic in the interview.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 20, 2010 20:06
As I noted before, Kirchick could've conducted an objective interview with a patriotically responsibe Serb position, which is critical of some core Western neolib and neocon policies.

Judging from its slant, RFE/RL is propagandistically attempting to nurture a certain imagery that's incomplete and inaccurate.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
October 23, 2010 15:31
You unbelievable evil moron, if somebody only half as evil and stupid as you were in my neighborhood I 'd long since have taught him a lesson he'd never forget and if his miserable life were to reach 200. But since there are no ones like that around it is just as well. Most people here respect me, and I respect them. Which is as it should be. But xenophobic individuals, the world would really be better off without them! All the harm individuals like you cause notwithstanding, Muslims and Bosniaks are not going to knuckle under. You will not bury us. The Cross will never chase the Crescent out of Bosnia. On the contrary. The more individuals like you hate us and the more irrational your hatred of all things Muslims becomes, the stronger we will become.

by: F Young
October 20, 2010 13:03
According to the European Values Study, Serbia is quite homophobic.

Preliminary data for the 2008 version of the study show that, in Serbia, 98% said that homosexuality is never justified. Compare this with France, where 20% said that homosexuality is never justified.

This is the URL.

In Internet Explorer 8, you need to use "compatibility view." In the left column, you must select "EVS 2008" then "Serbia" or "France", then "Religion and Morale," then "V240."
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 20, 2010 20:03
Consider who is doing the study - much like RFE/RL's heavy-handed bias against Serbs.
In Response

by: F Young
October 21, 2010 02:17
If you can explain the bias of this survey, please do so. If you have a better study or survey, please cite it. Otherwise, this study will have to do.

Any survey of a country's population is a better measure of the country than one person's opinion. While it is true that surveys can be biased, so can an individual's opinion.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Auckland
October 21, 2010 08:50
Come on BS, just like you claim that the polls showing an outright majority of Russian youth glorify Stalin are "biased", pull the other one BS.

You are the most biased spinner of BS on the forum.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 21, 2010 12:25
F Young

Show me how scientifically this poll was done.

Consider how the anti-Gay Vatican carries on, while having inside elements that have engaged in hushed up homosexual activity.

At RFE/RL, Serbs get bashed in a way that some others don't.

Let's see some articles on the anti-Gay positions among Vatican affiliated elements. Likewise with violently bigoted Albanian, Croat and Bosnian Muslim nationalists.

In Response

by: BS Buster
October 21, 2010 12:29
Andrew comes up with another meaningless and misinformative point - this one concerning Stalin's popularity in Russia.

In point of fact, my takes on Stalin's popularity in Russia haven't been shown wrong.

by: Anonymous
October 20, 2010 20:25
David, this article is not about LGBT(sic) parades of which a small minority of Americans march in and watch. In this article the American traveler met a Serb he thought was weird and backwards. He wrote a sarcastic, chatty article and clearly compared Belgrade to Teheran. He is what is known as an "ugly American" who doesn't care to be sensitive to more ancient traditions when they contradict his personal beliefs. He is the liberal flip side of the Mormon missionary in Orthodox countries. Gordon, your simple comment at least assures me you never feel alone.
In Response

by: BS Buster
October 21, 2010 12:27
Bingo Anonymous.

The author's views and the venue where this piece appears relates to your erudite point.

About This Blog

At Large takes an expansive view of the politics, people, and cultures of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's broadcast region. Written by RFE/RL Writer at Large James Kirchick, the site is home to dispatches and commentaries about the Balkans to Central Asia and everywhere in between.

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