Belgrade Pride 2010: Victory for Serbian LGBTI Community and Civil Society; Sympathy to Victims of Violence

IGLHRC believes that a vital part of our mission is supporting the work of activist organizations and allies by disseminating important information on human rights issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide. To this end we are posting this article from ILGA-Europe.

For Immediate Release

Today, for the first time lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex (LGBTI) people and their supporters in Serbia were able to host a March for Equality - undisturbed and fully protected by the police.

ILGA-Europe regards this event as historic and congratulates the LGBTI community and Serbian civil society with this significant progress. ILGA-Europe also congratulates Serbian authorities for fulfilling their duties and commitments to ensure security of the Belgrade Pride March.

However, ILGA-Europe is seriously concerned with the large-scaled and organised violent attacks organised by the Serbian ultra-nationalists, and the amount of work which still needs to be done in the country before LGBTI people can feel free and safe.

ILGA-Europe is also concerned that despite heavy police protection, the March for Equality was shortened and participants of the March were completely isolated from the general public. We believe the next challenge for the Serbian authorities and the police will be to ensure the proportionality of security measures with the true spirit of free assembly – delivering a message which on this occasion was compromised.

ILGA-Europe wants to express its gratitude to Serbian police for impeccable conduct of their duty. We express our deepest sympathy to those police representatives and their family members, who suffered injuries as well as a participant of the Pride March who was reported as being attacked after the March.

Linda Freimane, Co-Chairs of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, who was taking part in the Belgrade Pride on behalf of the organisation, said:“Belgrade Pride had a history of being one of the most violent and bloodies Prides in Europe. However, today, the Serbian authorities proved they are serious in their respect for everyone's right to exercise their fundamental rights, and for European integration. Despite significant pressure from some of its citizens, religious leaders and threats by ultra-nationalists, the March for Equality could take place and no participants were hurt during the March.

Our deepest sympathy goes to those Serbian police officers who received serious injuries and a participant of the March who we learned has been attacked after the March. We regret and denounce the fact that some sections of the Serbian society do not want to see their country as an equal and democratic part of the European family and employ barbaric and violent methods to prevent the progress in their country.

We sincerely hope that the Serbian government and the political elite will continue their work towards protecting the human rights of all citizens, and we will continue monitor the situation in Serbia closely, as well as continue our work with LGBTI and other organisations who are dedicated to legal and social change in Serbia.”

For more information please contact Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Europe: www.ilga-europe.org