NHC protests the ban on Belgrade pride 2011
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is concerned about the Serbian National Security Council’s decision to ban all public gatherings on 2 October 2011. The decision, as intended, effectively led to a ban on Belgrade Pride 2011. We are concerned regarding the development in this case specifically, and the situation for LGBTI people in Serbia generally. In a letter sent to the President of Serbia Boris Tadić today, we condemn the ban and call for concrete measures to ensure that Belgrade Pride can take place in 2012. The NHC has also encouraged the Norwegian Embassy to Serbia and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make it clear to Serbian authorities that such a ban is not acceptable. Read the letter below.
President Boris Tadić
General secretariat of the President of the Republic of Serbia
Andridev venac 1, 11000 Beograd, Serbia
Regarding the National Security Council’s decision to ban public gatherings according to article 11, Paragraph 1 of the Law on Gathering of citizens (September 30th).
With this letter the Norwegian Helsinki Committee wants to address the decision that effectively resulted in a ban on Belgrade Pride 2011 and the need to ensure that Pride can take place in Belgrade in 2012. We must express our serious concern that the human right of freedom of assembly for a vulnerable minority was seemingly not protected on 2 October 2011.
Taken into account that Serbia these days will be considered for candidate status to the EU, this is a time when the government's commitment to safeguarding human rights and protecting vulnerable groups against discrimination must be more clearly demonstrated.
Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has asked Serbian authorities to clarify the grounds for the ban, and which measures that have been- and will be undertaken in terms of Serbia's commitment to Article 11 on freedom of assembly in the European Convention on Human Rights.
We call on your office to make such a clarification available as soon as possible and for your office and the government of Serbia to immediately implement measures to improve the situation for LGBTI persons and initiate preparations to secure that Belgrade Pride 2012 can take place in a safe way (pending of course an application from the Belgrade Pride organizers).
To prepare for Belgrade Pride 2012 we call upon your office and the government of Serbia to
- establish a forum for cooperation and dialogue between the authorities and the organization Belgrade Pride Parade that will apply for permission to organize Belgrade Pride 2012. It is important that this organization is included in a wide range of measures, not only of safety-and logistical nature, but also various initiatives to combat prejudice, hate-speech and hate-crimes
- ensure that bans on public gatherings will not sanction on an equal footing peaceful manifestations and manifestations where the participants are likely to behave violently
- agree on a format for the preparation of Belgrade Pride 2012, which provides necessary collaboration and coordination between all involved agencies in a way that ensures continuity regardless of the outcome of the next elections
Norwegian Helsinki Committe