Pride parade in Ljubljana (2006)

Submitted by Organizing committee of Ljubljana’s Pride parade 2006

Pride parade 2006

The sixth Pride parade took place in Ljubljana this Saturday. Like previous years, the Parade was lively and colorful and the presence of policemen was not disturbing at all. The major of Ljubljana, Danica Simšič, who was the honorable sponsor of the Parade for the forth year in a row, approved our wish to start the Parade with the unfurling of the rainbow flag from the Ljubljana’s castle. Everything seemed peaceful and – as far as we can tell – there were no protesters on the sides of the streets we marched on. Since there were no violent reactions to the Pride parades in Ljubljana in the previous years, we believed that scenarios known from Serbia, Croatia, Russia, Poland and elsewhere cannot happen in Slovenia. While pointing at the different signs of homophobia in Slovenian society, we still took same pride in the fact that annual Ljubljana’s Pride parade is a peaceful event. The major often stressed in her Pride’s speeches that Ljubljana is a safe place, which welcomes gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals.

However, there was a dark side to this year’s Parade. It was caused by the event that took place in Maribor (the second largest town in Slovenia) a day before the Parade in Ljubljana. Like every year GLBT youth organization Lingsium organized their small manifestation called “Action for tolerance : Gays and lesbians wish you a good day!” They placed a stand on the main square in Maribor and spread the rainbow flag on the square. They were giving out leaflets about GLBT community in Slovenia to the people who passed by. Around one PM a car stopped in front of the stand and few guys jumped out. They started shouting: “Rainbow people are not welcome in Maribor!” One of them held a knife and started threatening the organizers of the event. Organizers managed to run away, while the attackers overturned the stand, tore the leaflets and quickly left the scene of the crime. One witness of the incident managed to remember the registration number of the car. The police are investigating the incident. It seems that the perpetrators were Viole (supporters of Maribor Football team).

Picture 1 – Torn down stand in Maribor

The information about the attack soon hit the electronic media. As organizers of Ljubljana’s Pride Parade we felt obligated to make sure that similar incident wouldn’t occur in Ljubljana. We contacted the police and informed them about the incident in Maribor. We acquired more protection from the police. The Parade and the political manifestation went through without an incident, but the incident in Maribor contributed to the fact that only 250 attended the parade, which is less then usual. The attacks on two gays were recorded later in the evening. They left the Rainbow party around three in the morning and were walking down the street (near the railway station), closely followed by a young guy in his early twenties. One of the gays asked him for a fire to determine the cause for his strange behavior: the street was empty and the fact that he was walking so closely to them was unusual. The young guy nervously responded: “I don’t smoke.” At that moment one of the gays turned around and saw a group of 4 guys, dressed in black, walking towards them. The gays decided to cross the street and move away, but at that moment the four guys and the guy, who was following them, started to run after them. The young guy was obviously a lure. They knocked them down and kicked them in their heads. One of them screamed: “Damn faggots!”. The victim recollects that the attack lasted around 30 seconds. Two minutes later a car passed by and stopped. The woman from the car called the police and after the police questioned the victims they were taken to the emergency room. The X-ray showed no inner injuries. But that was not the only incident. About an hour later four lesbians were verbally attacked while leaving Metelkova (the place where the Rainbow party took place). The homophobic remarks were shouted apparently by the same group of young men.

We believe that one of the major reasons for these incidents lay in the discourse, used by the Slovenian right wing government. For example, the Minister of family and social affairs claimed that his ministry will not deal with homosexuality, since it should be addressed by the Ministry of health. The vice-president of the parliament said that he would never have a coffee with a homosexual or a black person. During the debate on the bill on registered same-sex partners, one MP constantly used the expression “queers”. And there are more similar incidents. We believe that different forms of hate speech are not condemned by the government. The government rather produces and reproduces this kind of speech. And, of course, legitimates it. We believe that the incidents were legitimized by the government discourse and non-action. However, we are happy to report that after the press conference and broad media attention to the incidents, the president of Slovenia, Janez Drnovšek, the Prime Minister, Janez Janša, and the president of the parliament, France Cukjati, all condemned the attacks on gays and lesbians. The homophobic violence was also condemned by Danica Simšič, Ljubljana’s major, and Boris Sovič, major of Maribor. Still, the hate speech in the Parliament continues: Sašo Peče from Slovenian National Party, who is also a vice president of the Parliament, claimed that gays inflicted these attacks upon themselves in order to get more public attention. Similarly, an MP from New Slovenia Party, Alojz Sok, condemned the attacks, but at the same time claimed that gays and lesbians should not provoke the public. Which is to say: go back into the private sphere. And that is in total contradiction to the message of this year’s parade: “Enough! Let’s throw away the masks!”

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