Serbia: NGOs urge authorities to ensure freedom of assembly
BELGRADE -- A group of NGOs has asked the Serbian government and governments of EU countries to support all activities aimed at ensuring the right to assemble in Serbia.
In an open letter, the organizations, gathered at the House of Human Rights, stressed that the Serbian government must ensure the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender activists to gather and express themselves, and make every effort in order for Belgrade Pride Parade 2012 to be held without violence.
The NGOs also asked the government to fight against the violence aimed at LGBT groups and against the impunity of those "who have the intent of perpetrating violence against the citizens of Serbia who are using their constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of assembly", and to send clear messages to the public about the importance of respecting human rights of all citizens of Serbia, and especially the discriminated and marginalized groups.
Another demand put before the government is to implement activities in order to protect LGBT rights along with adopting a strategy against discrimination through cooperation with all relevant human rights protection organizations and promotion of rights of LGBT population.
The letter further appraised that "the negative experience with the banning of last year's Pride Parade at the last moment showed that the previous Serbian government did not respect domestic laws and international standards related to freedom of assembly".
It is also stressed that a new ban would prove that the new government also does not intend to view human rights as a fundamental value of society and protection of marginalized groups as one of its priorities.
The House of Human Rights is made up of Civil Initiatives, the Belgrade Center for Human Rights, the Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights, the Helsinki Committee and the Center for Practical Politics.
Meanwhile, the authorities are yet to decide on whether this year's gay parade will go ahead as planned on October 6 in Belgrade. PM Ivica Dačić on Monday said that the gathering will be banned if security services appraised that it brought with it high security risks.