GSA’s reaction to press release by Pride Parade Organising Committee

Belgrade, 17.09.2012

Regarding today’s press release of the Pride Parade organisers, which asks the Ministry of Interior to intensify their investigation and bring to justice those who attacked two young men in the night between 7 and 8 September in Belgrade (when V.M. (25) was brutally beaten), Gay Straight Alliance would also like to inform the public on the facts of this case, as well as the attitude of the Parade Organising Committee towards it.

GSA would, first of all, like to express gratification that the colleagues from the Pride Parade Organising Committee have finally understood the need for clearing up cases of violence against LGBT people and for a swift police reaction, which is something that GSA also insists upon, in this and in other cases, and which is undoubtedly necessary. However, we are also somewhat surprised by this sudden interest of the Parade organisers for this case and in this way, considering that they condemned this attack and spoke of it for the first time only after pressure from other LGBT organisations and only a day after the story appeared in the news.

Furthermore, when GSA revealed to the media and the public details of the attack, the first reaction of the Parade organisers was to ignore this case and say that it had nothing to do with the Parade, despite the fact that we know from the experiences of the past few years that violence based on sexual orientation grows around the time of the Parade, saying that there was nothing specific about this case and that it was enough that GSA spoke about it.

This sudden use of the case of attack on V.M. by Parade organisers for their current needs and without any understanding of the situation, can only lessen its significance, primarily because it appears that the case is probably more complex, as GSA has already informed the public. Litigation Service of GSA, apart from the standard processing and monitoring of the case itself, is also preparing a procedure before the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection and the Police Internal Affairs Sector, because there is cause for doubt that there has been neglect in the work of police officers.

No matter how serious and difficult this case and the circumstances surrounding it may be, GSA is determined to see it through and get to the truth, and so it is not helped by the Parade organisers who are waving with it now without any strategy. On the contrary, from the way the Parade organisers have been treating this brutal attack on V.M., GSA can only conclude that their today’s press release is nothing more than exploitation of the case for daily-political squabbles and that it is not an expression of their real interest that the case and all the circumstances around it be quickly resolved.

If, however, this sudden interest in the case of V.M. is indeed an expression of solidarity with the LGBT community and victims of violence, GSA would like to state that the Parade organisers have not so far asked after V.M.’s condition or offered any sort of assistance, even though they can receive information on this at any time. The level of the Parade organisers solidarity with the LGBT community is perhaps best illustrated by one of this year’s Pride Parade demands, which is about processing the threats that were made against them last year, while the threats to the 2009 and the 2010 Parades organisers have been completely forgotten, as are the numerous unsolved cases of violence and discrimination against individuals for their sexual orientation and gender identity.

GSA would therefore like to ask the organisers not to deal with the matters that they have not dealt with thus far, and instead of trying to do every kind of things and taking agendas from other organisations (such as the National strategy, hate crime, Declaration…), and without any forethought, they should finally start doing their job, which is organising the Pride Parade. For, here we are a few days away from the Parade and we still have not seen a single serious attempt and plan, not from the state or from the organisers, to make it actually happen.

In addition, if there are problems in organising the Parade, especially if these problems occur with the state and its institutions, GSA feels that the organisers should fully inform the public on this and tell us what their response is, as well as what the next steps are, so that we do not have a repeat of last year, when the Parade was banned while the organisers claimed to the last day that everything was going well and that they had the full cooperation of relevant institutions. LGBT people and all those who intend to attend the Parade need to be made aware of all the circumstances regarding this event and the reality must not be ignored, because the consequences could be serious. In fact, we could already see the consequences of ignoring and embellishing some other parts of our reality in the media in the past few months.

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