Belgrade Pride – a Trial of Democracy for Serbia

On Sunday, 20 September, a Pride parade will be arranged in Belgrad. During the last attempt in 2001, peaceful demonstrators were attacked and beaten by nationalist groups and football hooligans. The police stood on the sidelines and watched.

This time the Ministry of Interior and the police have promised to guarantee security for the participants, at the same time as nationalistic groups have threatened to do everything they can to stop the parade. Civil Rights Defenders and RFSL (Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) will attend the parade in Belgrade.

“Sunday’s parade will be an interesting activity for measuring how far Serbia has come in developing its democracy,” says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders.

The prerequisites for a successful Pride parade in Belgrade are much better today than they were eight years ago. In March, the Serbian parliament adopted a new anti-discrimination law, which among other things, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Organisations representing the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can work more openly at the same time as a wider range of human rights organisations are supporting Pride.

However, you cannot ignore the strong nationalist forces that are constantly present in Serbia. Hate speech against homosexuals, as well as strong statements against Pride are circulating in the media and on the internet.

“It is important, in both words and action, to show international support. We will therefore together with Civil Rights Defenders take part in Belgrade Pride on Sunday,” says Sören Juvas, President of RFSL.

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