Belgrade Pride banned for third year sends wrong signal for accession, MEPs say

On Friday 27 September the government declined to authorise the Belgrade Pride Parade due to take place the following day. The pride march was banned by authorities quoting “serious threats to the peace and public order.”

Logo Belgrade Pride 2013

However, only three days before Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić expressed the view that homosexuality was “not normal and natural” when asked about the possibility of holding this year’s Pride Parade.

Furthermore, parade organisers had previously announced that everything was ready, and they expected the authorities to allow it. The police was also ready to secure the event, as it planned to deploy 6,500 officers.

This is the third year in a row Serbian authorities banned the event due to safety concerns. The pride took place in 2010 under heavy police protection, resulting in physical degradations and several arrests.

Shortly after the announcement of the official ban, LGBT organisations spontaneously organised a midnight pride. About 250 participants walked from the government building to the parliament building in Belgrade. The walk was well protected by police officers who rushed to the scene, and took place without incident.

Several Members of the European Parliament, including Marije Cornelissen and Jelko Kacin, were in Belgrade to attend the pride activities.

Reacting to the ban, Jelko Kacin MEP, European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia’s accession and Member of the LGBT Intergroup stated: “Serbian institutions are not doing their job. Last year President Nikolić said there would be no excuse for a future pride ban. It’s also strikingly out of touch with Serbia’s EU accession negotiations, which started only recently.”

“Belgrade hasn’t been this close to holding a pride march in years. This is a lost opportunity to send a strong positive message about Serbian leaders’ commitment to reforms and the rule of law.”

Marije Cornelissen MEP, Member of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “It’s a sad day for Serbia, as the government again proved unwilling to guarantee citizens’ right to freedom of expression and assembly.”

“The absence of these fundamental freedoms should play a large role in the accession negotiations, and I hope the Commission will take this up in its accession report.”

The European Commission will publish the next accession report for Serbia on 16 October.