LGBTQI activists have labelled this a “failure of Serbian leadership”
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE VIA PEXELS
The organisers behind the EuroPride march, due to take place in Belgrade, Serbia on Saturday 17 September, have contested the “futile” ban introduced by the Serbian President. Labelled “a failure of Serbian leadership”, the organisers behind the event are due to submit a formal complaint to the police to overturn the decision. The event was banned three weeks ago by President Aleksandar Vučić, who deemed the event either “postponed” or “cancelled.”
Notably, EuroPride celebrations began on Monday 12 September with a flag raising at the Palace of Serbia and the opening of the Pride House in central Belgrade. More than 100 events are due to take place over seven days, with this year’s EuroPride marking the first to take place in Southeast Europe after persistent, long-term bidding.
Kristine Garina, President of the European Pride Organisers Association, states: “Police have waited until the last possible moment to ban the EuroPride march. Every time this has happened in Belgrade before, the courts have ruled the decision unconstitutional. The first ever ban on a EuroPride march cannot be allowed to stand and I have no doubt the court will take the same stance this time.
“The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, is about to take to the stage at the EuroPride human rights conference, and I demand that she explains why she has utterly failed to keep the promise of support she gave in 2019 when Belgrade was bidding for EuroPride. This ban displays a complete failure of her political leadership and the complete failure of Serbia to protect its citizens most basic freedoms. No self-respecting country would give in to bullies.
“The ban is futile. Thousands of LGBTI+ people and their allies are already in Belgrade to take part in EuroPride. We will gather on Saturday, even if we cannot march. We urge everyone who supports LGBTI+ equality and human rights to take a stand and join us on Saturday. It’s time for change and it is time for Belgrade. We are here and we will gather.”
Notably, Belgrade’s 2010 Pride march was disrupted by anti-LGBTQI protesters. The event was not able to safely return until 2014. In August, thousands of far-right protesters marched in protest against the event, with Bishop of Banat, Nikanor, of the Serbian Orthodox Church stating he would “curse all those who organise and participate in something like that.”
Though presenting himself as “not happy with the decision”, President Aleksandar Vučić stated that, paired with “recent tensions with its former province Kosovo”, the event could not take place. “Simply, at some point, you can’t handle everything”, he stated. “In another time, a happier one [the event could take place].”
EuroPride 2022 organiser Marko Mihailovic further remarked that “the state cannot cancel EuroPride”, labelling any attempt to do so a “clear breach of the constitution.” As Serbia’s first female and openly gay Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic promised full support from the Serbian Government throughout the bidding process for EuroPride 2022. Any attempt at holding the march on Saturday has been deemed “illegal.”
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