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Members of Serbia's Gay Alliance staged a protest yesterday, saying the government must do more to curb homophobic violence following Saturday's attack on a girl wearing a LGBT T-shirt.
|LGBT protest in Belgrade | Photo by FoNet|
"These hands are not violent," and "Homophobia can be cured," read banners carried by over 200 Serbs who protested in front of the government building in Belgrade on Wednesday.
The protesters said they were fed up with insults, threats, hatred and violence against LGBT people, Lazar Pavlovic of the Gay-Straight Alliance explained.
|Letter of the injured woman:
I am one of many that has experienced this - it could happen to any of you!
I know that my friends are afraid to report similar attacks that are happening to them but I have decided not to withdraw. I defended myself that night, and now I do not want to keep it quiet! And it does not matter whether I'm lesbian or straight - someone tried to kill me!
I am bitter and angry that they let the one who wanted to take my life...
What should have happened for the authorities to keep such a dangerous guy and remove him from the streets? If I had not resisted and if he had managed to stab or kill me, would that be a sufficient cause for his detention? What happened to me will continue happening until we stand up against rapists and those who instigate them.
Because life is worth it! Do not let someone have a go at you, do not hide within your "four walls" and do not have a fear of freedom!
I want to live and I want my life to continue. I do not want to go anywhere, this is my city that I love and I will not let these maniacs force me to leave it. I do not want them to be the picture of Serbia and our future!
Thank you immensely for your support all these days, it really means a lot.
It is enough!
The gathering, entitled "Dosta" ["Enough"], followed an unprovoked attack on Saturday on a 26-year-old woman wearing an LBGT T-shirt.
A youngster stabbed her with a knife at 4am in the centre of Belgrade. Police arrested him immediately but then released him on the grounds that as a minor he could not be charged.
The woman is still in hospital after suffering cut tendons in her right arm. She has asked not to be named, but has released an open letter, expressing surprise that her assailant is back on the streets already and wondering if that would still be the case if he had succeeded in killing her.
She also said she did not want "these maniacs" to force her to leave her home city.
"By releasing him [the youth] the state has sent a clear message that attacks on those who are different on any basis are allowed," Pavlovic told Balkan Insight.
The aim of the protest was to demand concrete moves be taken to prevent such incidents in future.
As no one from the government would meet the protestors they left a letter containing their requests in the government building.
The requests include: the government to clearly condemn homophobic violence and hatred; a national strategy to be drawn up on the issue; homophobic hate crimes to be included in the penal code.
"We are awaiting an official call for talks in order to find ways to prevent such incidents," Pavlovic said.
While Serbia's centrist government fights shy of seeing too friendly to unpopular gay groups, Interior Minister Ivica Dacic did visit the injured woman in hospital on Wednesday.
Recently, the government cancelled a planned gay parade only two days before it was due to be held, citing concerns about the danger of violent clashes erupting in the city between gay marchers and right-wing groups.
In theory, gays are entitled to protection under an anti-discrimination law adopted in March 2009. The law banned any kind of discrimination, whether based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or other factors. In practice, public expressions of homophobia remain tolerated.
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