Serbien: Opposition Party, Rights Groups Assail Serbian Government's Move To Cancel EuroPride Event

. : Serbien

(Radio Free Europe, www.rferl.org, 29. August 2022) Opposition parties and global rights groups on August 28 blasted the Serbian government’s decision to cancel an international LGBTQ EuroPride event scheduled for next month. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on August 27 acknowledged that the rights of sexual minorities are threatened in Serbia but said the government had come under intense pressure from right-wing groups and representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church to cancel the event. “It is not a question of whether [those pressures] are stronger,” Vucic said. “It’s just that at some point you can’t achieve everything, and that’s it.” Vucic allowed for the possibility that the event could be held at a later date.

EuroPride promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex pride at the pan-European level and is hosted by a different European city each year. The event includes a Pride Parade. The UN’s Belgrade office said it was concerned about the cancellation, saying it would jeopardize “the right to freedom of assembly as guaranteed by the Serbian Constitution.” “The EuroPride is also an opportunity to celebrate the foundations of a strong and progressive society based on social equity, equality of all rights, solidarity, friendship, and love,” UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia Francoise Jacob said.

The Civic Democratic Forum opposition party accused Vucic of “playing dictator” and modeling himself after Russian President Vladimir Putin. Forum leader Zoran Vuletic said Vucic “cannot cancel an event that he did not schedule and he cannot, according to the constitution, prohibit the gathering of people.”

Kristine Garina, president of the European Pride Organizers Association which licenses EuroPride, issued a statement saying the event would not be canceled despite Vucic’s remarks. “The right to hold Pride has been ruled by the European Court of Human Rights to be a fundamental human right,” Garina said. European Pride Organizers Association three years ago chose Belgrade to host the annual event, hoping it would represent a major breakthrough for a Slavic country that is traditionally conservative and under strong influence from the Orthodox Church.

Also on August 28, right-wing groups and political parties, church representatives, and others gathered in Belgrade in support of the cancellation of the EuroPride parade. Many carried crosses, icons, and church symbols, with some displaying banners supporting Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On the same day that Vucic announced the cancellation of the parade, he also proposed extending the term of Serbia’s prime minister, Ana Brnabic, who is a lesbian but who has been accused by Serbia’s gay rights groups of not doing enough to help their status in the country. She joined Vucic in supporting the canceling of the EuroPride event. “No matter how you turn it, from any angle you look at it, the first inviolable thing is to ensure peace and stability in the country,” Brnabic said.

Serbia held its first gay-pride parade in 2001 and the event was met by violence and angry counterprotests by far-right and nationalist groups. At the next Belgrade pride parade, in 2010, more than 100 people were injured. However, a third gay-pride parade was organized in 2014 and the event passed without serious incident. Since then, annual pride parades have been held peacefully in Belgrade each year, except for 2020 when the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Quelle: www.rferl.org, 29. August 2022)

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