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Belgrade Pride: Serbian government must take a stand against exclusion and intolerance

The Serbian authorities must ensure that the 2010 Belgrade Pride – the first in nearly 10 years – goes ahead unobstructed on 10 October in central Belgrade, Amnesty International said today.

Activists from Serbian LGBTI (LGBT) groups will march together with their families, friends and supporters from other organisations, including Amnesty International.

Amnesty International is concerned that right wing groups will increasingly resort to threatening behaviour – both verbal and physical – in the lead up to the march.

Amnesty International Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

“Amnesty has already learnt of several attempts to intimidate individual gay rights activists.

“The threats are designed to inflame prejudice, increase hostility and encourage violence, and all with one simple aim – to destroy the gay community in Serbia. They cannot be allowed to continue. The Serbian authorities must take a tough stance.

“Under international and domestic law, the Serbian authorities must guarantee the rights to freedom to assembly, expression and association to the LGBT community and their supporters.

“The police must immediately investigate all threats, identify possible security risks from counter-demonstrators and guarantee the safety of participants.

“Political leaders should state publicly and unequivocally that LGBTI people have the right to demonstrate and that anyone trying to violate these rights will be brought to justice.

Tim Hancock added:

“Diversity and tolerance, equality before the law for all, no discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity grounds, are all messages that LGBT rights activists will take to the streets on 10 October. They must be able to do so without fear of threats and threats.”

Background information:

Since 2001 the LGBT community in Serbia has been unable to hold a Pride Day parade due to serious threats from right-wing and religious organisations.

In 2001, the police failed to protect participants of the first Gay Pride Parade in Belgrade from attacks by members of a counter-demonstration who threatened and assaulted participants in the march.  

Last year, the Belgrade Pride march, which was scheduled for September 2009, did not take place after the authorities at the last moment refused to provide security to the Pride participants on the agreed route through the city centre because of threats from right-wing groups.

Despite the requirements of the national law, the authorities have failed to bring to justice those responsible for issuing threats to the organisers and supporters of the 2009 Pride.

The Serbian Anti-Discrimination Law explicitly guarantees the rights to freedom of assembly, expression and association to LGBT people. Threats that aim to destroy the rights of freedom of assembly and expression of others, and which amount to incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence against Pride organisers and participants, violate international human rights law, and also appear to violate Serbian law, such as Article 387 of the Serbian Criminal Code, Racial and Other Discrimination.

Belgrade Pride 2010 is organised by Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and Queeria, with the support and assistance of the Group for Support of Gay Men from Novi Sad and other LGBT activists.

The Pride march is scheduled to start at 10am at Manje Park.

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