THE SHOT: As we reported earlier in the week, the Serbian government decided to ban today’s Belgrade Pride celebration, ostensibly to prevent the violence that had accompanied previous celebrations.
But as Belgrade-based Queerty reader Lily Lynch let us know, that didn’t deter the local LGBT community from holding a low-key gathering in the park.
As you probably know, the Serbian government acted in concert with neo-fascist groups in an attempt to deprive citizens of their right to free public assembly.
That did not stop a small group of organizers from gathering a crowd for an unofficial “Pride Picnic” earlier this afternoon in protest of the ban. More than 20 activists congregated in Student’s Park in central Belgrade beginning at 2 PM and stayed for two and a half hours with zero disturbance from riot police or one of the many members of roving neo-fascist groups. Participants displayed a rainbow flag and enjoyed food, beer and hanging out with their dogs. The picnic was so successful that organizers hope to make the Pride Picnic a regular event until the Serbian government recognizes its need to comply with international human rights standards and uphold the civil rights guaranteed in its own constitution.
Image by Srecko Sekeljic
Brave men and women. Good for them!
I thought the Serbian government had to agree to LBGT equal rights to join the EU?
A picnic sounds more fun than a parade anyway.
i couldn’t agree more! the idea of a Pride Picknick seems so cozy and fun! 😀 a whole different concept from the pride here! XD In amsterdam it’s just sitting or standing at the canal watching boats floating by, with some minor activity in some square (one stage n stuff, smaller events in bars..). How superb it’d be to just gather together and have a nice picknick with some bands at totally random points n stuff ^___^
Love the serbs on this one. friggin awesome <3
They are winning. And not in the sad Charlie Sheen way.
@Tony: Well ‘LGBT equal rights’ is an extremely nebulous term. Members have to show ‘respect for human rights’ and there are some directives about anti-discrimination. And Serbia isn’t an EU country. http://europa.eu/about-eu/countries/index_en.htm
@Tony: Well, ‘LGBT equal rights’ is an extremely nebulous term. Members have to show ‘respect for human rights’ and there are some directives about anti-discrimination, but LGBT rights on the ground in Europe vary wildly depending on which country you’re in. And Serbia isn’t an EU country. http://europa.eu/about-eu/countries/index_en.htm
ack. sorry. comments system gave me an error msg and posted my first msg anyway. apologies for double post!
Thanks for your comments and support, guys! We had a blast despite the heavy atmosphere.
The Serbian government did receive significant pressure from Brussels to go forward with the Pride Parade but in the end sided with extremist groups, citing the violence that was likely to result if the event was held. The Serbian state showed its weakness and indifference to minority rights issues with its refusal to stand up to neo-fascist thugs and football hooligans. The Pride ban, resurgent tensions in Kosovo and diminishing public support for Serbia’s EU membership all but guarantee that Serbia is off the fast-track to EU accession.
The situation here is pretty heavy and unimaginable to people living in Western Europe or North America. There are slogans like “Death to Faggots”, “Stop Gay Parades” and “Faggots in a Blender” written on walls all over Belgrade; those messages are rarely painted over or taken down.
Despite the hostile atmosphere, there is a lively and thriving LGBT scene here as well as an excellent nightlife. I highly recommend that you visit!
@Lily Lynch: I can understand your frustration with the way the government behaved. On the other hand, the struggle to even hold the march was well-reported, even in places like CNN and The Economist, so I’d say that’s a victory of sorts.
I’m sure I can speak for many people when I say I admire the fact that you and the community won’t be silent despite such hostile surroundings. Stay safe! I’d LOVE to come visit some day!
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