Belgrade Pride 2011 banned
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee regrets the decision of the National Security Council of the Serbian Parliament to ban Belgrade Pride 2011. The statement made by the Serbian president Boris Tadić that “This way the citizens and members of the LGBT* population are protected” is a clear indicator that the rights of sexual and gendered minorities are still not being taken seriously by Serbian authorities.
The decision is in effect the Serbian state succumbing to pressure from violent and intolerant groups, preventing a peaceful celebration of human rights.
Belgrade Pride that should have been held today, October 2nd, was banned together with other so-called high-risk gatherings this weekend on the grounds of threats to national security. The other mentioned gatherings are predominantly protests to the Parade. Organizations such as the ultranationalist Obraz and Dveri are currently claiming their victory on the subject matter.
Belgrade Pride was carried out with effective support from the police in 2010, and this was an important signal from the authorities to the forces in Serbia that encourages discrimination and violence towards sexual and gendered minorities. In 2009 the Parade was cancelled in the last second due to security reasons, and the parade in 2001 was characterized by massive violence when the police did not protect the participants from attacks by anti-gay protesters and bystanders.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses its concern that the signals from the Serbian Authorities are no longer in line with last year’s positive development.
The Serbian Constitution and the Anti-discrimination Law prohibit any direct or indirect discrimination based on any grounds including sexual orientation and gender identity. We call upon the Serbian state to carefully consider what new measures that needs to be taken to ensure that they can fulfil these legal responsibilities.
The ban on Belgrade Pride happens just before October 12th, when the European Commission will make their recommendations on the possibilities for Serbian candidacy for the European Union, and it should be no question at this time whether the Serbian state should be prepared to protect public human rights manifestations and the rights of people belong to sexual and gendered minorities.
* Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual
Update 4 October:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee regrets the statement given by the Belgrade Mayor Dragan Đilas, saying that “If a mayor could decide on holding of the Pride Parade, like in other countries, I would not allow such manifestations(B92)”
Đilas stressed that Serbia currently had much more serious problems than Belgrade Pride, and that the parade “(…)allegedly aims at showing differences and waking up tolerance, but it always causes the opposite. Xenophobia has increased in Serbia after last year’s parade(B92)”
Banning the parade rewards the behavior of people who are fighting to keep the parade from happening, and such a statement insinuates that the LGBT community bears responsibility for the hate and prejudices against them. Mayor Đilas’ statement in effect welcomes the fact that there was no parade on October 2nd, thus compromising the integrity of the state commitment to the Serbian Constitution and the Anti-discrimination Law.
Serbian authorities should clarify which measures they will pursue so that people belonging to sexual and gendered minorities in Serbia can exercise their rights freedom of expression and assembly.