ILGA-Europe supports Belgrade Pride 2009
ILGA-Europe fully supports the LGBT community in Serbia in their constitutional right to peaceful assembly. Our representatives will also attend Belgrade Pride on 20 September 2009.
In 2001 the LGBT community in Serbia attempted to hold its first Pride parade which was violently broken up by groups of nationalists and members of right-wing organisations who attacked and seriously injured around 40 civilians and eight police officers. Despite advanced warning that the parade would be attacked, Belgrade's police failed to provide adequate protection for the participants of the Pride and later on to punish the perpetrators. The trauma of the 2001 events and the real concerns for the security made it impossible to hold pride events for the next seven years. It was considered too dangerous to try to hold such an event. However, this year, on September 20, the LGBT community will hold its second Pride parade in Belgrade.
The attempts of LGBT people to hold peaceful events are often met with violent opposition, particularly in Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Although the level of police protection has improved in recent years (Bulgaria, Croatia) security during the Pride events remains to be a matter of great concern in many Balkan states.
The right to freedom of assembly is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 20), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 21), European Convention on Human Rights (Article 11) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Article 12), and is confirmed by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on Baczkowski & Others v Poland case. It is also expected and demanded of the states aspiring to become EU members to protect all its citizens equally against discrimination.
Earlier this year, the Parliament of Serbia adopted a comprehensive anti-discrimination law providing protection against discrimination on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity, despite fierce opposition from the religious community. Last month the Interior Minister, Ivica Dacic, gave assurances that the police will protect participants of the Pride: ‘In this country, no one will be allowed to threaten or bother anyone’ (1).
ILGA-Europe welcomes the commitment of the Government of Serbia to the human rights of LGBT people and calls on the Ministry of Interior and on other relevant bodies of the government to ensure LGBT people’s right to freedom of assembly and expression which will allow Serbia to overcome the legacy of 2001 and join the growing number of European countries that respect the human rights of all its citizens.
Linda Freimane & Martin K.I. Christensen
Co-Chairs of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board