European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has written a blog in support of the Serbian Pride parade planned for October 6 2012, while the Serbian Orthodox Church has joined calls for the parade – along with an exhibition that reportedly links Jesus Christ to LGBT culture – to be banned.
In a blog on October 2, Malmström said that homo-and transphobia inEuropeare issues to take seriously.
“This week, all eyes are onSerbia, where a pride week is organized, which hopefully ends well with a pride parade on Saturday,” she said.
Belgrade has had a pride parade on two occasions, in 2001 and 2010, but both times the participants were attacked and people injured. Both 2009 and last year, the Serbian authorities banned the parade. This year, the organisers have not yet received a permit for the demonstration planned for Saturday and they fear it will be banned, Malmström said.
“I have heard that there are posters and graffiti calling for violence against pride participants inBelgrade. “Love, Faith and Hope,” is on the contrary, the motto for Belgrade pride. And it is indeed about love. The right to love the one you love, without losing your rights, being discriminated against and risking threats and violence. But it is also the faith in that society can be changed and the hope that one day you will live in an open minded society,” she said.
Malmström said that there is a need for systematic work aroundEuropeto strengthen awareness of LGBT rights at all levels of society.
“It’s not about special rights – it’s about equal rights.”
There is a great need to fight all tendencies to discriminate LGBT people, through legislation and campaigns. The possibility – and right – to have pride parades is a very important part of that fight. It is worrying if the authorities give in to threats of violence, and ban parades. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental component of a democracy, and the government’s task is to ensure the rights of its citizens, Malmström said.
Belgrade-based website B92 said on October 3 that Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej has urged Prime Minister Ivica Dačić to ban the Pride parade.
In a release submitted to Serbian news agency Tanjug, the patriarch says the “tragicomic parade of shame” casts a heavy moral shadow on Belgrade, on Serbia’s longstanding Christian culture and the dignity of the family, as the basic unit of humanity.
Commenting on the exhibit, which has stirred a lot of debate in the public, the patriarch said it was “deeply insulting.”
Belgrade Pride organizing committee member Bojan Stojanović has announced that, should the gay parade be banned, its participants would not go to the streets, B92 reported. Instead, they will hold the event “indoors”, Stojanović said on October 2 in Belgrade.
(Photo of Cecilia Malmström: Hans Doverholm)