Education International
Education International

Serbia: It is time to guarantee LGBT rights

published 8 October 2010 updated 8 October 2010

As Serbia’s LGBT community gets set to march, for the first time since 2001, at Belgrade Pride on 10 October, EI declares its support and solidarity for the event, and calls on the authorities to guarantee organisers and participants’ safety.

EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, said: “The freedom of expression, which should be enjoyed by trade unions and civil society organisations, has to be guaranteed for everyone. This includes activists from Serbia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. They have a right to live free from discrimination and the threat of harassment and physical attack.

The first Belgrade Pride in 2001 ended in chaos when participants were attacked and beaten up by a mob that was hostile to LGBT people. In the years after that incident, the LGBT community in Serbia has been unable to hold a Pride Day parade due to serious threats from right-wing and religious groups. The 2009 Belgrade Pride was cancelled the day before it was due to go ahead, after the police said they could not guarantee participants’ safety.

Serbia’s anti-discrimination legislation explicitly guarantees the rights to freedom of assembly, expression and association to LGBT people.

"Recognizing the rights of the LGBT community in practice is part of the democratic processes that need to be improved in Serbia. All education unions should support the Belgrade Pride march and declare their solidarity with the LGBT community!" stated Branislav Pavlovic, president of the Serbian teacher union TUS, a member organisation of EI.

Mr Van Leeuwen added: “It is an obligation of the Serbian authorities to implement the law. All political leaders should publicly state the right of the LGBT community to demonstrate, and the police must investigate all threats, and guarantee complete safety for participants.” In July 2010, Warsaw successfully hosted the ’Liberty, Equality, Tolerance’ Europride event– the first of its kind in Eastern Europe – after previous Pride events were banned. Polish trade unions played a key role on that occasion, with widespread European and international trade unions’ support.

EI believes it is time to guarantee the rights to freedom of assembly, expression and association to the LGBT community and their supporters in Serbia.