30th Nov 2023

EU ambassador to attend gay pride in Serbia

  • Serb marchers at a gay pride event in London earlier this year. The situation in Belgrade is more tense (Photo: anemoneprojectors)

The EU's ambassador to Serbia, French diplomat Vincent Degert, has said he is willing to personally attend the Belgrade Pride event in the Serb capital on Sunday (10 October).

Mr Degert made the offer while speaking in the Hotel Continental in Belgrade on Tuesday at a function to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the so-called Bulldozer Revolution, which overthrew the administration of Slobodan Milosevic. He also encouraged Serbian government officials to come along.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The EU delegation will make the final decision on Mr Degert's attendance on Thursday, pending security advice.

The last Pride event in Belgrade, in 2001, ended in mass-scale street fights when football supporters' clubs, among others, attacked the pro-gay-rights marchers. A planned event in 2009 was cancelled over security fears. This year, Serb police plan to field between 3,000 and 5,000 officers - more than three officers per Pride demonstrator expected - in order to discourage violence.

Lazar Pavlovic, one of the event organisers, told this website that other EU embassies are also planning to send senior people to observe or stand alongside the demonstrators, but the final list of EU attendees is still unclear. Representatives from the Brussels-based campaign group, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe), are expected to come along, as well as individual protesters from nearby EU countries, such as Bulgaria.

Mr Pavlovic said the Serbian government has backed the 2010 demonstration in part due to concerns about its image in Brussels in the context of renewed talk on Serbia's EU accession prospects.

"Last year they underestimated the level of hatred that we face [in Serbia]. This year, they have arrested people who made threats against us and the minister for minority rights, Svetozar Ciplic, is planning to come along," he said.

"A very big factor is that all the eyes of the international community and of the European Union are on our government ... The EU should send a strong message that if a country cannot guarantee equal rights and equal treatment for its citizens, then that state cannot be a real candidate for EU membership."

EU member states in June this year adopted what they termed a "Toolkit to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People."

The document, sent out to EU missions in third countries, carries a set of instructions for diplomats to, among other measures, attend court hearings in cases involving LGBT victims; make formal complaints or "demarches" on LGBT problems to host countries; include LGBT issues in their regular reports to Brussels and even "encourage partner countries to initiate legislative changes to ensure equality before the law."

MEPs, such as the Finnish chair of the European Parliament's human rights sub-committee, Green deputy Heidi Hautala, are also taking an increasing interest in the issue of gay rights on the EU's eastern fringe.

"A country aspiring to join the EU should strive to combat all discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. In the EU family there should be no room for prejudice and violence against the Other. At the end of the day this is about equality between each human being," Ms Hautala told EUobserver on the Belgrade event.

Institutionally-speaking, the EU's Mr Degert is now part of the European External Action Service rather than the European Commission. The commission itself is less keen to get directly involved in gay rights issues beyond the EU's borders.

A clause against discrimination on the grounds of "sexual orientation" in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which was incorporated into the EU's Lisbon Treaty, has given it a soft mandate to police the situation inside the EU. But when asked for a comment about Serbia's responsibility to protect Pride marchers, a commission official said: "If they are an [EU membership] aspiring country, they know what's expected of them. But the commission has no legal authority to intervene."

Member states stall on EU ban on forced-labour products

More than two years after the EU Commission first proposed a law on forced labour, inter-institutional negotiations have not started because member states cannot reach agreement — risking the text's adoption before the 2024 European Parliament elections.

Strikes across Europe squeeze Amazon on 'Black Friday'

On one of its most profitable retail days of the year, Black Friday, online giant Amazon faces a wave of protests and demonstrations in more than 30 countries demanding better wages, fair tax payments and greater accountability for the planet.

'Fucking furious': MEPs urge action on gender violence

MEPs across the political spectrum united on Thursday to send a clear message: a robust directive on violence against women is needed — and the Council must unblock the negotiations before the end of the mandate.

Musk's Tesla problem in Sweden — how a strike snowballed

Tesla is facing combined opposition from its Swedish employees, trade unions and even companies in the industry itself. A small industrial dispute over the rejection of a collective agreement has snowballed in little over a month.


My experience trying to negotiate with Uber

After working with people in unusual employment situations for a decade, I thought I had seen it all as a union organiser. Then I began dealing with Uber.

Latest News

  1. EU offers Turkey upgrade, as Sweden nears Nato entry
  2. Russia loses seat on board of chemical weapons watchdog
  3. Finland's closure of Russia border likely violates asylum law
  4. The EU's 'no added sugars' fruit-juice label sleight-of-hand
  5. EU belittles Russia's Lavrov on way to Skopje talks
  6. Member states stall on EU ban on forced-labour products
  7. EU calls for increased fuel supplies into Gaza
  8. People-smuggling profits at historic high, EU concedes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  2. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  4. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  5. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  2. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations
  5. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  6. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us