Progressives urge Serbian government to facilitate safe conduct of EuroPride 2022 

Conservatives and other homophobic groups have protested the conduct of EuroPride 2022 in the Serbian capital Belgrade. The events will be held from September 12 to 18

September 06, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
EuroPride 2022 - Serbia (1)
Representative image.

LGBTQ+ communities and rights groups in Serbia and other parts of Europe are gearing up for the week-long EuroPride festivities scheduled in capital Belgrade from September 12 to 18, including the Pride March on September 17. Progressives, liberals, and various rights groups including Human Rights Watch, as well as around 145 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have urged the Serbian government to facilitate the peaceful conduct of EuroPride 2022, which is being challenged and opposed by conservative and far-right sections in the country. 

On August 28, thousands of people on the call of religious and homophobic right-wing groups marched in Belgrade to protest EuroPride 2022.  Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had earlier announced the cancellation of EuroPride 2022 in Belgrade in the wake of far-right threats and tensions in Kosovo. However, succumbing to criticism from liberal sections, the Serbian government moderated the announcement by calling it more of a plea than an order. The organizers of Euro Pride 2022 have nonetheless decided to go ahead with the pride week in Belgrade as scheduled.

According to the organizers, Belgrade will be the first city in Southeast Europe and the first outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to host a major event for the pan-European LGBTQ+ community. 

The LGBTQ+ community in the Balkans and parts of Eastern Europe has been facing discrimination and harassment from conservative governments and homophobic groups. Against all odds, LGBTQ+ communities and rights groups conduct pride parades annually in these countries, braving repression. The LGBTQ+ community in Serbia was able to conduct its first ever Pride fest in Belgrade in 2001.

EuroPride 2022 organizers have stated that “in the Western Balkans, the LGBTQ+ community faces deep inequality and discrimination. EuroPride in Belgrade is a turning point in the region, validating the efforts of LGBTQ+ activists to achieve equality and empowering them to continue the fight. Although some progress has been made in recent years, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in the region remains common and widely spread. Governments across the region have ignored requests from activists and members of the community for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people.”

EuroPride will help the LGBTQ+ community in the region to put additional pressure on the governments in the region to implement already existing laws protecting LGBTQ+ rights and adopt new laws, particularly regarding the legal status of the same-sex partnerships. EuroPride in Belgrade marks an important step along the path toward achieving equality for the LGBTQ+ community in the Western Balkans, and will energize activists and the community for the long road yet to be traveled.” 

Read: Pride for people, not for profit

On August 31, in an open letter signed by 145 MEPs addressing President Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights demanded that the Serbian government maintain the organization of EuroPride 2022 and to ensure sufficient police protection.

On August 29, the Radical Left Party (PRL) in Serbia denounced the president’s announcement of the cancellation of EuroPride 2022 in Belgrade. The party stated that it opposes the pride ban and supports members of the LGBTQ+ community in the fight for full equality in society. 

“We believe that this equality can be achieved through a joint and solidarity fight. Removal of fundamental rights and freedoms in the name of “national interests” is a path to tyranny in which no one is safe,” PRL said.

Earlier this year in June, LGBTQ+ rights groups and progressive sections organized pride marches and other festivities throughout the globe as part of the annual pride month celebrations. Working class sections and leftist youth groups in Europe also resolved to fight both LGBTQ+phobia and rainbow capitalism in order to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ people. There has been a widespread practice of corporates and countries with a notorious human rights record and anti-worker machinations sponsoring pride parades to pinkwash their crimes and advertise their business.