Youth Initiative for Human Rights Network (YIHR) stands in solidarity with LGBTIQ+ community in Serbia after the latest official statements of the President and the Government of Serbia announcing the possibility of banning the scheduled EuroPride 2022 march in Belgrade.

YIHR calls the authorities in Serbia to act responsibly and to defend the basic human rights of the LGBTIQ+ community in Serbia. Serbian authorities must not meet the demands of extremist groups and individuals, but fulfill their constitutional duty to protect the freedom of peaceful assembly.

Safety and security of Serbian citizens cannot be achieved with bans and restrictions of basic human rights and freedoms. LGBTIQ+ citizens of Serbia are victims of numerous attacks, hate speech and physical and verbal violence on a daily basis. Sacrificing their basic human rights to please extremist groups and individuals is a clear violation of the public authorities’ function under the Constitution. 

The trust of citizens in state institutions is crucial for the functioning of every democratic state. If LGBTIQ+ people cannot peacefully gather and walk the streets of Belgrade even just for one day, they cannot trust that they are entitled to enjoy equal rights as other members of Serbian society.

Linking EuroPride 2022 to the complex political situation in Kosovo demonstrates once again the lack of understanding of the problems that the LGBTIQ+ community faces. LGBTIQ+ persons face discrimination on various fronts in their everyday lives, which has nothing to do with the tensions between Kosovo and Serbia or in the region as a whole. Justifying the possible ban of EuroPride on the ground of political tensions manifests a clear unwillingness of Serbian authorities to face the issues of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Neither the President of Serbia nor the Government can cancel or reschedule the EuroPride march. That can be done by the organizers only. According to Serbian law, a security assessment must be delivered by the Ministry of Interior, and there is still no official decision to ban this year’s EuroPride march.

On 17 September 2022, YIHR and its activists from Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina will proudly walk the streets of Belgrade in solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ community. Respect for human rights and freedoms of all citizens around the region, especially of those in vulnerable position, will remain the core principles of YIHR’s work and activism.