27th June – Pride Day – Marked by the Action “Hate-Free Zone” and a Walk in Downtown Belgrade

Belgrade, 27.06.2013.

The international Pride Day was marked today in Belgrade by an action called „Hate-Free Zone“ („Zona slobodna od mržnje“) and a short walk from the Republic Square (central square in Belgrade) through main Belgrade streets.


This action was organised by: Women in Black (Žene u crnom, ŽUC), Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), IDAHO Belgrade, Gay Lesbian Info Center (GLIC), Association „Rainbow“, Novi Sad Lesbian Organization (NLO), and they were also joined by activists from other non-governmental organisations.

The assembly started at noon and gathered around 150 participants, including: Miljenko Dereta, MP from Liberal-democratic party (LDP); Tamara Lukšić Orlandić, Deputy Ombudsman; Biljana Srbljanović, playwright; Gordana Mitrović, the first trans person in Serbia who spoke out publicly about her life in the documentary „When I was a little boy, I was a little girl“; and representatives from international organisations and the civic sector.

After gathering on the Republic Square and hearing a short address by the organisers, the participants took a walk along Knez Mihailova and Zmaj Jovina Streets to Obilićev Venac, where in 2009 a French citizen, Brice Taton, was murdered. Brice Taton had arrived to Belgrade for a football match of his Toulouse club and, in the atmosphere of hatred and heightened social tensions on the eve of the scheduled Pride Parade, he was brutally beaten by extreme right-wing houligans.

The participants carried a huge sign that said “Hate-Free Zone”, an eight-meter-long rainbow flag, as well as many smaller rainbow flags. The assembly was secured by the police, while a lot of citizens cheered the procession on during its progress, showed their support, or even joined in. There was not a single incident.

Lazar Pavlović, President of GSA, said that the activists from non-governmental organisations gathered on the Republic Square in order to mark the international LGBT Pride Day, send an anti-violence message, and show solidarity for all other vulnerable groups in society that suffer violence. „We wish to show our solidarity with them and to show that we do not accept violence and will fight it with non-violent methods“, Pavlović said, emphasising that LGBT people in Serbia want to live their life in dignity just like other citizens, and not under the burden of shame. „Violence and hatred are huge problems in this society and their solution includes numerous social and political factors. That is why the LGBT movement in Serbia, with the support of other organisations, through this and other individual and mutual actions, is trying to point out the clear necessity of building and strengthening social solidarity, not only between various minority groups, but also solidarity and tolerance in the entire society.“

On Obilićev Venac, there was a minute of silence in memory of Brice Taton, and at the spot where he was killed (on the stairs of Obilićev Venac), the participants left the large rainbow flag which they had carried in the procession. The organisers stated that such hate crimes must not be repeated ever again and that in the future, every year on the 27th June, through similar actions under the same name „Hate-Free Zone“, various locations in Belgrade and other Serbian cities will be symbolically „freed“ from all forms of xenophobia, racism, homophobia, chauvinism, hatred and bigotry towards different social groups and individuals.


International Pride Day is marked around the world in memory of the Stonewall Revolution – first open riots against systematic arrests, persecutions and harrassment of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people by the US government. In the night between the 27th and 28th June 1969, in a gay club- The Stonewall Inn- in New York, there occurred (yet) another police raid, which grew into a spontaneous physical confrontation between the police and LGBT people who decided to stand up to harrassment and demand that their human and civil rights be respected. The police arrested the protest leaders, used water cannons to disperse the rest, but the demonstrations spread through New York and continued in the next few days, leading towards great positive changes. These protests mark the very beginning of organised activism and the modern-day movement for the successful exercise of rights of the LGBT community in the US and then also in the rest of the world.

Pride, in the context of celebrating the international Pride Day, signifies the need of LGBT people to live their life in dignity just like other citizens, as well as to participate in all socio-political events on an equal footing and not as concealed second-rate citizens with the burden of shame for their own existence.

Info Center GSA
Photo: Ninoslav Boškov; RFE/RL (Vladimir Lukić)
Video: Tanjug, Blic