news 12 Sep 12

Serbian Gays Unveil Demands Ahead of Pride

In the run-up to Pride week, activists urge authorities to implement several measures that they say would greatly improve life for the gay community in the homophobic country.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Ahead of 2012 Belgrade Pride Parade, which is planned for the end of September, organisers of the event have several tabled demands that they wish the authorities to adopt.

One is for the appointment of contact persons trained to work on problems that the gay community faces in every police department in each of Serbia's 24 main towns and cities.

"By appointing a contact person in each city a proper communication channel would be established for cases of violence and threats," the statement says.

The group also wants an article criminalizing hate crimes added to the penal code, and parliament to adopt a declaration against homophobia and a national strategy against violence.

They also want immediate adoption of a new law recognizing sex changes.

Finally, they want all those whose threats and calls for violence resulted in the cancellation of Belgrade Pride 2011 to be brought before the courts.

Last year’s parade was scrapped at the last moment on security grounds. The 2010 Pride took place but at a high cost.

Several thousand youths, including football fans and members of ultra-rightist organizations, attacked police officers who had been deployed to protect the marchers.

Goran Miletic, one of the organisers and programme director of Civil Rights Defenders for the Western Balkans, said he hoped the authorities would act on their demands.

"Only good will is needed for these demands to be adopted as they do not require a lot of work," Miletic told Balkan Insight.

Meanwhile, Pride organisers are busy preparing for this year’s parade, which will be held as part of a week's celebrations under the slogan Love, Faith, Hope from September 30 to October 7.

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