The United Nations human rights office has urged Serbian authorities to ensure the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community can exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association, following the Government’s decision to cancel the pride parade in Belgrade, that had been scheduled for September 28, for the third year in a row.
“We regret that the Serbian authorities decided to ban all public gatherings scheduled for last Saturday, 28 September, including the pride parade for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ravina Shamdasani, told reporters in Geneva.
According to the Serbian authorities, the decision was based on security assessments. This is the third year in a row that the pride parade has been banned in the capital for the same reason. In 2010, the last time the event was held, it was marked with violence and attacks, including by individuals who threw bottles and stones at the crowd and committed acts of vandalism.
“We would like to recall that the LGBT persons should be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, a point emphasised by the High Commissioner during her official mission to Serbia in June this year,” Shamdasani said.
“Responding to violent attacks against a vulnerable community, such as LGBT, by banning them from peacefully gathering and expressing themselves further violates their fundamental human rights, and rewards their attackers.”
During her June visit, High Commissioner Navi Pillay received assurances from the authorities, including President Tomislav Nikolic, that the pride parade would be held this year.
“We therefore urge the Serbian authorities to ensure the adequate protection of the LGBT community so that they are able to exercise their right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly before the end of the year,” Shamdasani added.