This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Chargé d’affaires David McFarlane today wrote to the organisers of Belgrade Pride 2013, and Prime Minister Dacic, expressing his support for the peaceful staging of a Pride parade in Belgrade on 28 September.
The committee organizing the Belgrade Pride Week2013 in late September is now preparing diverse events to celebrate and advance the goals of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)community in Serbia. The week is planned to end with a parade on September 28th, for which the organising committee has sought relevant permissions from the authorities. They are thus asserting their right to peaceful assembly as enshrined in Serbia’s constitution in a planned and predictable manner.In order for preparations to move forward, I am now looking forward to the Serbian authorities’ response to the requests for permission.
The values of pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality are essential values, shared by our country and Serbia alike. Unfortunately, all over the world, members of the LGBT community are subject to discrimination, often hidden and carried out with impunity, because of the invisibility of the community members themselves.
Guaranteeing the rights of LGBT people requires an active, consistent and determined policy from state institutions, including at both central and local government levels. The right to peaceful assembly is such a fundamental right, and LGBT people should like any other be allowed to exercise that right, without threats of violence or actual violence towards parade participants. It is the responsibility also for the government to stimulate a culture of tolerance and social inclusion towards the LGBT community. That same tolerance must be shown towards groups which hold opposing views. But the Serbian authorities should ensure that others wishing to exercise their legitimate right of free speech in opposition to a parade do so in a peaceful and non-confrontational way.
I use this opportunity also to urge an end to the impunity with which some groups have been able to threaten disruption of the Pride parade, leading to the refusal of permission for Pride marches in recent years, or threaten physical violence against participants. Such actions should be correctly prosecuted according to Serbian law.
A successful Pride week and parade would add much to the work already done to promote the rights of LGBT people. Legislation to end discrimination of minority groups, including LGBT people has been enacted, an anti-discrimination strategy has been adopted. I welcome the adoption of legislation designed to combat hate speech.
A peaceful and joyous Pride in Belgrade on 28 September, properly secured by the authorities, would be another signal of Serbia’s commitment to creating a culture of tolerance and diversity, and will counter stigmatization and stereotyping, as well as hate speech, discrimination and violence.
I would like to support this celebration of diversity, and I call upon Serbian political leaders and holders of office in the relevant authorities to facilitate a peaceful and secure environment for the Pride this year.