On August 28, Serbian President announced that the EuroPride march in Belgrade planned for September 17 would not go ahead. Two days ago, the Serbian police instead announced a ban on the route for the parade, which had already been agreed between the organisers of Pride and the Serbian authorities.
IPPF EN and IPPF Member Associations from Serbia (Center for population policies and sustainable development -CPPSD), Norway (Sex og Politikk) Romania (SECS – Contraception and Sexual Education Society) and North Macedonia (HERA - Health Education and Research Association) stand with Serbian LGBT and human rights activists in condemning the banning of the LGBT march event as a huge blow for human rights. The parade, due to take place this weekend, was cancelled amid fears that counter protests could turn violent. The atmosphere of fear, threats of violence and numerous serious acts of discrimination which are illegal and punishable - have reached a peak and achieved their goal.
A ban on fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in the public space is a threat for all of us as citizens and for our capacity to operate as civil society organisations serving groups marginalized by systemic oppression. Banning the LGBT march at a time when ultra-nationalist and far-right groups are tolerated to express hatred and contempt against this minority in the streets of Belgrade will intensify hate crimes and hate speech and fuel violence. Not only are the national authorities clearly failing to respect their obligations under human rights law to ensure freedom of assembly for all citizens, but they also fuel anti-LGBTI rhetoric which puts LGBTI people and community at increased risk of violence.
This is a very sad day for Serbia, and not one, but one hundred steps back for human rights in this country. It is more important than ever in these difficult times to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in Serbia and not allow artificially designed gaps between the majority and this minority to deepen. We will be present at the Pride March in Belgrade on Saturday and call on the Serbian authorities to respect their national and international obligations in ensuring the security of the participants during and at the end of this march for human rights.