Make sure Belgrade Pride isn't a washout

In May horrific floods plagued Serbia. At least 57 people died and more than 30,000 people were evacuated from their homes. At the same time, Belgrade Pride was due to take place and the organisers’ decision to postpone the celebration was a shame, but wholly understandable.

But now, as the rain clouds drift away and the sun breaks through, a rainbow is cast over the LGBTI community in Serbia – Belgrade Pride has been given the green light once again, with encouraging signs that this time it will actually take place. This is fantastic, welcome and encouraging news: the floods were a completely unavoidable cause for cancellation, but it’s not the first time Belgrade Pride has been called off.

A history of cancellations

The Serbian government hasn’t exactly been supportive of Pride events in the past. Pride marches in 2011 and 2012 were banned, with the Serbian government claiming they'd made the decision in order to avoid a repeat of violence instigated by nationalists at the first Serbian Pride, which took place in 2010.

In 2013, Belgrade Pride was given the go-ahead - before the Serbian government changed their minds and once again cancelled it, citing the risk of violence from right-wing extremists petitioning the event. This led to criticism from the EU commissioner Štefan Füle, who spoke out that the Serbian government had ‘missed [an] opportunity to show respect for fundamental rights.’

Individual Serbian politicians have a history of openly dismissing Pride too - and the LGBTI community generally, for that matter. When asked at the time when the 2013 Pride march was still going ahead whether he would attend, the then Serbian Prime Minister replied, ‘No. Do I have to become gay?’

Another politician, Dragan Marković Palma, an MP and leader of the political party United Serbia, was recently found guilty by the Belgrade Court of Appeal of a severe form of discrimination when he called LGBTI people ‘ill’ and claimed them to be responsible for the depopulation of the country. Shortly after his conviction, Palma persisted by writing an open letter condemning the verdict and inciting further discrimination.

Hate crimes are rife

Serbia is still a dangerous place for LGBTI people with hate crimes being left uninvestigated and cases closed without bringing the perpetrators to justice.

One Pride organiser has filed a case against Serbian police for failing to investigate an attack on his property and threats to his life in October last year. Threats have been made – and also ignored by police - against non-governmental organisations such as Gay-Straight Alliance.

It must have come as quite a surprise then when Pride organisers were told by Jadranka Joksimović, the Serbian Minister for European Integration, that ’the Serbian state must do everything to make sure that the Pride march takes place in Belgrade in 2014’.

With the new date for the march officially agreed as 28 September and the Pride festival due to take place all week, the organisers are asking for messages of support ahead of the Pride. They’d like our help to ensure that Jadranka Joksimović, along with the rest of the Serbian government, stick to their promises and obligations and make Belgrade Pride happen.

Take action to help Pride go ahead

Stand beside activists in the LGBTI community who will appreciate that they have support from people around the world who believe in and are happy to support LGBTI human rights.

The theme for this year's Belgrade Pride is 'people for people'. Let's echo that and show that we are here, we support Pride and wherever we are, we want to keep that rainbow alive and help make Belgrade Pride 2014 go ahead.

Take a photo

We're asking you to take a picture of yourself, either on your own or with friends, showing a message of support for the LGBTI community in Serbia and for the organisers of Belgrade Pride. You could just give them a thumbs up, it could be something written on a piece of paper, or you can print out the template message attached to the bottom of this blog post. It doesn't have to be especially high quality or professional - a cameraphone picture will do.

Share it with the LGBTI community in Belgrade

 
Facebook
: Post the picture to Belgrade Pride's Facebook page

Twitter: Tweet your photo to @BelgradePride and @AmnestyUK_LGBTI with the hashtag #LjudizaLjude (which means 'people for people)

Email: Send your photo to our LGBTI network at lgbtinetwork@amnesty.org.uk

See who's already taken action

Tweets about "#LjudizaLjude -RT" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Ryan Stalley is one of our Media Team volunteers and a member of our LGBTI activist network

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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