An Important Victory for Freedom of Assembly

Civil Rights Defenders welcomes the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Serbia, stating that the ban on the Pride Parade 2011 was a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of assembly. The court awarded the Pride Parade Belgrade association €500 for immaterial damages.

“It is important that the highest court in Serbia confirmed that the ban was not legal. We are still not sure if this decision will have any influence on the government, but now they know that a new ban will be unconstitutional”, says Goran Miletic, Programme Director for Western Balkans at Civil Rights Defenders.

This is the second ruling by the Constitutional Court concerning the prohibition of Pride Parade. In December 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled that the banning of Pride Parade 2009 had also violated the Constitution and in its ruling concluded that the decision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, ordering the organisers to switch the venue of Parade 2009, violated article 54 of the Serbian Constitution. The Belgrade Pride 2011 organising committee lodged a similar constitutional complaint after the prohibition of Pride 2012, and legal proceedings relating to each ban are still ongoing at the European Court of Human Rights.

Belgrade Pride 2013 will be a chance to fully affirm both of the Constitutional Court’s rulings, by ensuring complete freedom of assembly, as guaranteed by the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and other international conventions which Serbia has ratified.

Civil Rights Defenders cooperates closely with Belgrade Pride by conducting lobby and advocacy activities, sending out invitations to international and regional participants, and by giving the organisation moral and financial support.