Unacceptable ban of Belgrade Pride 2009
Civil Rights Defenders is greatly concerned about the fact that the Ministry of Interior has confirmed that it cannot guarantee security during the planned Belgrade Pride in the centre of Belgrade. It de facto means that the planned Pride parade has been banned and that the state of Serbia cannot protect freedom of assembly and freedom of expression for lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
Considering the promises made by the Ministry of Interior to guarantee security and the outspoken support by the government of Serbia, the sudden decision by the Ministry of Interior to indirectly ban Pride comes as a surprise. It sends a clear message to the LGBT people in Serbia that their state is not in practice able to protect their rights. Moreover, Civil Rights Defenders are concerned about part of the decision in which the police mention inability to protect security of citizens and property, since formal and informal groups have announced violent attempt to stop the parade. This is a confirmation that violent groups are stronger than law enforcement institutions in Serbia and that police cannot protect 500 citizens in a peaceful gathering in the centre of the capital.
Civil Rights Defenders is also concerned about the homophobic messages and the incitement to violence spread in some mass media. We urge the state of Serbia to properly investigate the threats and hate speech which has been spread in mass media and to make the responsible persons accountable for their actions. Otherwise the state indirectly contributes to a climate in which it is accepted to spread hatred and incite to violence. The Criminal Code of Serbia with its very recent changes allows public prosecution of persons that threaten persons and organisations because of their work for equality of citizens”
As a partner of Belgrade Pride 2009 and of LGBT organisations in Serbia, Civil Rights Defenders will continue to support efforts of the LGBT community to ensure freedom of peaceful assembly to its members, which is one of the basic human rights in every society.