“This weekend’s announcement by the President of Serbia that EuroPride, due to be held in Belgrade in September, may be postponed or cancelled, is a worrying step backwards for both equality and democracy,” declared Christophe Lacroix (Belgium, SOC), General Rapporteur on the rights of LGBTI people of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), today.
“The Serbian authorities have frequently professed their support for equality. This is always welcome – but words are not enough,” he underlined. “Equality can only attained by working actively to promote it and achieve it.”
“LGBTI people are still far too often made to feel that they have something to hide,” he said. “Pride events are a vital source of strength and solidarity, and give crucial visibility to the struggle for LGBTI equality. As the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly made clear, and as the Assembly emphasised again in January, Pride is not a problem: banning it is. The authorities must actively support such events and enable them to be held safely. Equality as well as freedom of expression and assembly must be respected.”
“Serbia has made great strides forward since the years when safety requirements were used as a false pretext for banning Pride events. Hosting EuroPride represents an important milestone in that journey. Political interference from the highest levels, pressuring democratic institutions to privilege alleged concerns about national security over the active promotion of equality in society, would represent a serious setback for both democracy and human rights in Serbia,” said Mr Lacroix. “Europe is watching. Don’t get this wrong,” he urged.