Belgrade Pride Week 2015 – Challenging Stereotypes Head On

Civil Rights Defenders is delighted to support Belgrade Pride Week 2015, which kicked off on 14 September. The action packed week consists of a wide variety of cultural exhibitions, community-oriented events and discussions that take place throughout several locations in the Serbian capital.

On 19 September the International Pride Forum will kick off at the Media Centre Belgrade and will see representatives of international, foreign and local institutions and organisations as well as LGBT and human rights activists from the Western Balkans gather to discuss issues affecting LGBT people and other marginalised communities in the region.

“Pride 2014 was considered a success without any incidents or cases of violence towards the participants being reported and we are hopeful that the same can be said this year. Pride 2015 is even more important, since it will demonstrate if the Serbian government and the authorities are committed to fully respecting and protecting human rights for all marginalised communities. One year without violent incidents is a good start, but two years means progress”, says Goran Miletic, Programme Director for the Western Balkans at Civil Rights Defenders.

Several Belgrade Pride marches have been banned in the past, many last minute, in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, due to alleged security concerns claimed by the authorities. In 2010, the March was followed by an outbreak of violence fuelled by extreme right-wing groups. After the 2013 ban, LGBT activists had had enough and took matters into their own hands by organising a Midnight Pride March, which took place one day before the official Pride March was scheduled.

Civil Rights Defenders will once again be a visible force during Belgrade Pride. On the 17 September the event “From Hate Speech to Acceptance” will be held exploring the thin line between hate speech and support to vulnerable groups. The event will include debates, an interactive exhibition documenting hate speech together with support comments where visitors will be given a chance to “reply”. This will be followed by concert hosted by famous Serbian hip-hop singer Sajsi MC. The event will take place at Mixer House (Karadjordjeva 46).

On Friday 18 September Civil Rights Defenders will organise an exhibition of photos made by famous Serbian photographer Sever Zolak. The exhibition entitled “We Exist” explores gender, gender roles, sexuality, identities and stereotypes. The grand opening of the exhibition will take place at G12 Hub Gallery (Karadjordjeva 59) on Friday 18 September at 20:00.

The penultimate event the International Pride Forum, which will be held the day before the long awaited Pride March, begins on Saturday the 19 September at the Media Centre Belgrade (Terazije 3) from 10:00-18:00. The Forum gathers expert speakers from the international community, representatives of international, foreign and Serbian organisations and activists from the Western Balkans.

Civil Rights Defenders urges the Serbian government to honour all its international obligations to ensure a safe Belgrade Pride March 2015, scheduled for Sunday 20 September. Freedom of peaceful assembly must be secured for all citizens of Serbia, regardless of ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation

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