News 12 Sep 12

Serbian Ex-Fighters Plan To Parade Next to Gays

After the LGBT community announced that it will hold its annual 'Pride Parade' on October 6, the Serbian war veterans plan to use the media attention and organize their own 'Shame Parade' alongside.

Marija Ristic
 War veterans protesting in Belgrade I Photo by Beta

The association of the Serbian war veterans announced that they will organize a gathering of their members - ‘Shame Parade’- on October 6 and use the media attention generated by the ‘Pride Parade’, in order to show “to the society and the world shameful conditions they live in”.

Mile Milosevic, the president of the Serbian war veteran society, was careful to point out that the veterans’ gathering is not anti-gay, and they have chosen the same day only because both international and Serbian media would be closely following Belgrade’s Pride Parade.

“We do not want incidents and we will not interfere with Belgrade’s Pride Parade. It is their [LGBT community] right to request solution to their problems. We want to show ours, “ Milosevic said.

“War veterans are one of the biggest communities in Serbia and the one of the most neglected ones. We want our legal status to be solved and the Law on War Veterans to be adopted. The state is so far trying to “wash itself” from the wars and it is pretending that the war never happened,” he explained.

The exact number of the war veterans in Serbia is unknown. The Ministry of Defence says that around 500,000 people are considered veterans. But some war veterans groups put that number much higher, to over 700,000.

Serbia remains the only country in the region that does not have a law that regulates the rights of war veterans. The majority of them say that they feel forgotten by both the state and the society.

A number of them took their case to the European Court for Human Rights, which ruled in July that Serbia needs to pay overdue wages to its former fighters.

 Belgrade Pride Parade from 2010 I Photo by Beta

The organizers of Pride Parade, however, are concerned about the war veterans gathering, as they fear that the far right organizations will use it for their “own violent purposes.”

Last year’s parade was scrapped at the last moment on security grounds. The 2010 Pride was marred by incidents.

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

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