State agencies must use all legal powers to protect the Pride Parade

Anti-Discrimination Coalition calls on all state agencies to use their statutory powers in the next 10 days to ensure that the Pride parade scheduled for October 10th 2010 elapses without incident. At the same time, the Coalition believes that the parade is an ideal opportunity for their frequent verbal support of human rights in Serbia, they can demonstrate in practice.

Since its founding member of Coalition Against Discrimination expressed its support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Anti-discrimination law, adopted in 2009. was a positive step that protects all LGBT people and other citizens who are victims of discrimination, but as the amendments to the Criminal Code relating to criminal acts of discrimination have not yet been applied in practice. Pride Parade to be held on October 10th will be a real test for the authorities of Serbia and their will to really protect the citizens who belong to the LGBT community, including their freedom to express their sexual orientation and the right to peacefully assembly.

Coalition Against Discrimination expressed satisfaction with the promise that the Pride Parade participants will be protected to the maximum, which was repeatedly stated by representatives of state authorities. Having in mind the brutal attacks against the citizens who tried to organize Pride Parade in 2001 and the prohibition of the 2009 Parade we expect that the Ministry of Internal Affairs is fully prepared and has sufficient police officers and other resources that will protect the participants of parade. Besides the protection of participants in the Pride Parade, it is necessary to promptly process all those who threaten the participants, the organizers of the parade, and all who belong to or support the LGBT community.

Basic human right to freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by Article 54 Serbian Constitution and Article 11 European Convention on Human Rights and must be valid for every citizen, including members of the LGBT community. The obligation of the State is to respect and protect these rights during the parade. Prohibition or any restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly, as happened to the pride parade 2009 is not acceptable. Coalition Against Discrimination and its members together with other partners and international organizations concerned with human rights will closely monitor developments and take an active part in the Pride Parade October 10th 2010. At the same time, the Coalition welcomes the positive measures taken so far by the Serbian government, including the promise of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but expects the arrest and prosecution of all those who in any way threaten or spread speech of hatred. Trials in these cases must be fast, committed criminal acts must be qualified in accordance with the law, a verdict must be known to the general public acting preventively to other potential perpetrators.

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