Ombudsman criticizes Pride Parade ban

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from B92:

Saša Janković says the state had no right to ban anyone from exercising their constitutional rights because someone else was threatening them with violence.

The citizens' ombudsman added that the state "has the right to call its ban reasonable."

Commenting on last week's decision to cancel the Belgrade Pride Parade due to security risks, he told the daily Danas that "after some comments from the top before the event it is more likely to talk about violence as justification, rather than about a justified decision."
"That's why I said that the decision to ban the Pride was 'honest' - it accurately reflects the attitude of those who have passed it and which they have about human rights - 'we will protect the them, but only if we like them and if that does not cause us problems among the electorate," said Janković.
The ombudsman did not want to speculate on how the ban would affect the reputation of Serbia and the European Commission's report, but said he was concerned about how pandering to violence and radicalism would "kill optimism in people."
He said that the midnight gathering on Friday the LGBT population was a defiant protest against the non-holding of the parade, rather than than the parade itself.
"This protest is a good first effect. But that gathering was not Pride, but rather evidence that the rights of LGBT citizens cannot be exercised in public, in the usual way, but only by surprise, by the methods of Belgrade illegals from World War II," Janković was quoted as saying.

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