Belgrade Pride a 'litmus test' for the Serbian government

The Serbian government must stick to its guns and fully support the 2014 Belgrade Pride despite the threat of anti-gay protests by extreme nationalist and religious groups, said Amnesty International today. The event, the first not to be banned since 2010, is set to go ahead on 28 September. 
 
Nicolas J. Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said:
 
“For the last three years the Government has succumbed to pressure from extreme nationalist and religious circles and refused to guarantee the safety of Belgrade Pride participants. Now there has been a sea change in the authorities approach with several ministers publically supporting the event. The government must stick to its guns and show a genuine commitment to freedom of expression through protecting and promoting the rights of those wishing to take part in the celebrations.
 
“The 2014 Belgrade Pride will be a litmus test for the Serbian authorities. By continuing to support and protect the rights of people involved in the celebrations they have the chance to send a clear and important message that discrimination against LGBTI people and restrictions on their freedom of expression are unacceptable.”
 
An Amnesty delegation is in Belgrade observing the preparations, and monitoring the engagement of authorities, including the policing of the event. 
 
Concerns about the security situation remain. The police are currently investigating complaints of threats and hate comments that organisers of the Pride have received on social media, as well as instances of harassment on the streets. 
 
A participant in a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) conference was brutally attacked in central Belgrade on 13 September. Reports suggest it was motivated by homophobic and xenophobic hatred. Three people were arrested in relation to the attack but details of the investigation are not yet public. 
 
According to reports, Serbian police also arrested three other people who distributed leaflets inviting people to join protests against Belgrade Pride Parade. 
 
Amnesty spokespeople will be available for interviews in advance of, during and after the Belgrade Pride march which will take place on Sunday 28 September from 12.00-14.00,  from the building of the Government of Serbia to the park next to the building of the City of Belgrade Assembly. (https://goo.gl/maps/LLtCx
 
The day before, on 27 September, Amnesty representatives will take part in a panel discussion at the International Pride Forum, “Supporting human right across the globe”.
 
 

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