Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

MEPs demand Serbia not cancel Pride march

  • Green MEPs in 2020 demonstrating their support for LGBTQI rights (Photo: Greens-EFA Group in the European Parliament)
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Scores of European lawmakers are demanding Serbia allow an LGBTI march to take place in Belgrade.

Their demand follows Serbia's president Aleksandar Vučić's announcement at the weekend that the so-called EuroPride scheduled for September would be "cancelled or postponed".

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Vučić blamed a tense border stand-off with Kosovo for the move, despite the two sides reaching a recent deal on one of the two contentious issues.

But some 145 MEPs across the major political groups on Wednesday (31 August) have since sent Vučić and prime minister Ana Brnabić a letter asking them to reconsider and to deploy police security at the event.

"We are aware that there are threats to the security of protestors, yet we maintain that banning this event outright is not the right solution," states the letter.

Luxembourg's socialist Marc Angel, who co-chairs a European Parliament group working on LGBTI issues, said Serbia's Brnabić had also promised full support for the organisers. "We therefore simply call on that promise to be fulfilled," he said.

Foreign affairs ministers speak out

European foreign affairs ministers have also chimed in, demanding the parade take place.

"We do not agree with the stance of the Serbian president," said the Czech Republic's minister Jan Lipavský.

Sweden's foreign minister Anne Linde said hosting EuroPride "is an honour" and a demonstration for human rights.

Norway's Anniken Huitfeldt also offered her support to "encourage Serbia to facilitate Europride 2022 in Belgrade".

"Disheartened by Serbia's decision to cancel the @EuroPride 2022," said Jeppe Kofod of Denmark.

EuroPride event organisers have also refused to stand down. In a statement, they said the march will continue as planned on 17 September.

"Neither the hosts of EuroPride 2022, Belgrade Pride, nor us as the licensor will cancel EuroPride in Belgrade," said EuroPride president Kristine Garina.

EU Commission still assessing Hungary's anti-LGBTI law

In response to the EU probe, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán's government called for a referendum on the anti-LGBTI legislation, but it failed to to muster enough votes earlier this month to be valid.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

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How can Serbia ban EuroPride yet still hope to join EU?

Bowing to pressure from radical-nationalist groups and the deeply-conservative Orthodox Church, Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić announced last week EuroPride 2022 would be cancelled –– even though he legally lacks the authority to do so.

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The EU Commission's 2022 CSDDD proposal did not include provisions incorporating "conflict due diligence", they were added, after the Russian invasion, by the European Parliament and Council into the final directive text — for Ukraine's sake, vote for it.

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