This year, the city of Belgrade will host EuroPride, an event that, for the time being, is surrounded by tensions due to the Serbian President’s attempts to cancel the event
This year’s LGBTI pride celebration events in Europe will come to an end with EuroPride, set to take place from 12 to 18 September in Belgrade. This is the first time EuroPride is held outside the European Economic Area, and this is to support the LGBTI community in Belgrade, which is experiencing high levels of discrimination.
Goran Miletić, the coordinator for EuroPride 2022 said: “During these days, all eyes will be on Serbia, a country that will be given the opportunity to show a new facet as a tolerant, free city of solidarity”. However, just a few days back, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, announced the event was cancelled, in a clear threat to the organisers.
Confronted with this situation, EuroPride’s coordinator responded firmly: “The State, i.e. the police, can only ban EuroPride, it cannot cancel the event. Such a decision would be unconstitutional and the Constitutional Court has already overturned such decisions in the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. They cannot ban events held in closed spaces that have been made available for EuroPride 2022. We are waiting for an official decision, which we will challenge in court”.
Hence, the organisers are determined to go ahead with the event to counter what they consider an arbitrary decision by the State, and support is pouring in from Pride Organisers in Europe such as Pride Barcelona, Bilbao Bizkaia Pride, Madrid Orgullo or Eivissa Pride. These organisations issued a joint statement which reads: “We consider this decision a grieve violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a violation that is even more serious when committed by the very State institutions which are supposed to guarantee these rights”.
“President Vučić cannot ban someone else’s event. EuroPride is not and shall not be cancelled"
In a similar tone, Kristine Garina, who is Chair of the European Pride Organisers’ Association said “The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the right to celebrate Pride is a fundamental right. Any attempt to ban Pride is in breach of Articles 11, 13 and 14 of the European Covenant on Human Rights, which was ratified by Serbia as a member of the Council of Europe”.
Garina also recalled the Serbian Government’s commitment towards Pride: “President Vučić cannot ban someone else’s event. EuroPride is not and shall not be cancelled. During the selection process for Europreide2022, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic pledged the total support from the Serbian Government for EuroPride to be held in Belgrade, and we expect this pledge to be met”.
LGBTI-phobia is shown, in this case by the State, and tensions have risen just a few days before event is set to begin. An event to gain in visibility, solidarity and equality is now blurred by threats that have a sad precedent when, in Oslo, a man killed two people and injured 21 at a LGBTI pub, leading to the Pride march to be cancelled. In Belgrade, the struggle against the State and LGBTI-phobia continues and it is expected that, during this week, up to 20,000 people will attend. The organisers are calling on Serbian authorities to oppose these threats and to fight inequality.