Stand proud for LGBTI rights as Belgrade Pride is banned...again

Love is a human right, right? So are the freedoms to express yourself and get together in a group, correct?

Unfortunately these facts seem to have evaded the Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic, who has just banned Belgrade’s Pride march for the second year in a row.

Amnesty has dubbed the move a ‘victory for prejudice’, calling it a 'sorry defeat for human rights and common decency'.

By banning the march the government is effectively going against its own legal and constitutional protections for basic rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Serbia.

But this is just the latest blow in a sustained assault on LGBTI rights in some parts of eastern Europe in recent months.

In March St Petersburg became the fourth Russian city to pass a law banning what it calls “homosexual propaganda”. The Pride march, scheduled for July, was banned.

The law - already in force in Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma - criminalises 'public action aimed at propagandising sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors'. Those charged with breaking the law can be fined from 5,000 (£108) to 500,000 roubles, the Guardian reported at the time.

Then, in August pop star Madonna held a concert in St Petersburg and spoke out in support of equal rights for gay people. Nine activists linked to the Union of Russian Citizens – a right wing political group – are suing her and the concert organisers for nearly $11 million for breaching the new law.

In the same month, Moscow’s highest court upheld a ban on Pride marches for the next 100 years.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Ukrainian parliament has just passed a law banning the promotion of homosexuality, which the EU says contradicts the 'norms and values that are promoted and defended by the EU and its member states both internally and internationally'.

And then to Moldova - in September, Amnesty published a report highlighting rampant discrimination against LGBTI communities there. The report proposed amendments to a new equalities law due to come into force on 1 January 2013  - the changes would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, sexual identity and state of health. It also called for hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation and identity, as well as disabilities, to be added to Moldova’s Criminal Code.

This clampdown on fundamental human rights is a worrying state of affairs. But you can do something about the Belgrade Pride march - see the Word document below for details on how to write to the Serbian Prime Minister, before 6 October.

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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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