Nils Muiznieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe, has sent a letter to the organizers of a Pride parade planned in Belgrade on September 28. The parade is part of a larger week-long Pride event starting tomorrow and running through September 29.
In his letter, Muiznieks reminds Serbian officials that “states have a positive duty to protect the participants of a demonstration, even if this demonstration may annoy persons opposed to the ideas or claims that the demonstration seeks to promote.”
In the months leading up to Belgrade’s Pride events, ultra-right hardliners have continued to provoke and threaten Pride organizers. According to Balkan Insight, the rightist Serbian National Movement “Naši” has started distributing free copies of a magazine called “Gay Pride Survival Guide.”
Leading Serbian officials have remained silent, reluctant to offend public opinion or spoil Serbia’s image in Brussels as the country continues to seek EU membership.
Serbia’s first attempt to hold a Pride event in 2001 was disbanded after protestors clashed with police. Authorities banned Pride altogether in 2009, 2011 and 2012 out of concern “for the safety” of marchers.