Belgrade, 27 June 2015
As in the past two years, this year the 27th of June – The International Pride Day of LGBT people – will be marked in Belgrade by “Hate-Free Zone”, an action that is co-organized by a group of non-governmental organizations: Women in Black (ŽUC), Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Gay Lesbian Info Center (GLIC), Association ”Rainbow“ from Šabac, Center for Queer Studies (CKS), Association “Hestija”, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) and Alliance of Anti-fascists of Serbia.
This action has received written support and/or was attended in previous years by numerous national and international organizations, institutions and representatives of the diplomatic corps, and this year the following organizations have joined in the support: Centre of Modern Skills, Center for Civil Resources Development from Niš, NGO Equal Rights, UDIK from Sarajevo, as well as the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Belgrade.
Head of EU Delegation to Serbia Michael Davenport in a letter addressed to the organizers of this year’s celebration of Pride Day, expressing his personal support, and the support of the EU Delegation, among other things said:
“All over the world we celebrate this day and we are sending a clear message that all citizens have the same right to dignity and equality.
In this context, the European Union Delegation to Serbia supports the “Hate-Free Zone,” which peacefully draws attention to the need and the obligation to equally respect the human rights of all, including vulnerable groups. This initiative points to the problems of LGBTI people, as one of the most discriminated groups in many countries and urges that they be given support. It must be the aim of the entire society.
We are all responsible and we all have to participate in the fight for tolerance, respect for human rights for all and equal opportunities for all, which also represent the basis on which the EU is founded.”
Among the first who expressed support for this year’s “Hate-Free Zone” was the newly elected Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Janković. In her statement congratulating Pride Day to the LGBT community, among other things the Commissioner said:
“Although in the past year certain steps have been made to improve the position of the LGBT population – from adopting strategic documents to holding the Pride Parade -research continues to show that they are still subject to discrimination, that social distance has not been reduced, and that the violence of parents, close relatives and partners of LGBT people is increasing.
Therefore, there is a lot of work to be done in order to become a society in which we fully respect human rights, and to make Serbia a secure environment for all those who have a different sexual orientation. To achieve this we need intensive and sustained efforts to combat prejudices and stereotypes, primarily in children and young adults. This is the way to teach new generations tolerance and non-discrimination and to show that we are all equal, but different, and that it is precisely these differences which provide opportunities for both individuals and the society to continue to advance, enrich themselves and develop.
The Commissioner also called on citizens to join the “Zone”, which she will attend together with her associates.
“Hate-Free Zone” has also received support from the Office of the Ombudsman. Deputy Ombudsman Gordana Stevanović said in her letter of support:
“We support this action dedicated to the celebration of the International Pride Day of LGBTI people, stressing the importance of combating all forms of stereotypes and the importance of spreading tolerance towards people of different sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as members of other vulnerable groups exposed to discrimination, threats and violence because of their diversity.
On this occasion, we are sending a message that any form of discrimination, threats and violence towards people of different sexual orientation and gender identity is absolutely unacceptable and that the obligation of the state is to continue working on raising public awareness about the importance of tolerance and respect for all forms of diversity, and on the prevention and sanctioning of hate crimes committed because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Announcing their presence at this year’s “Zone” are also: the President of the Parliamentary Committee for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Meho Omerović, Deputy Ombudsman Miloš Janković, Head of the political section of the EU Delegation Luca Bianconi, as well as other representatives of institutions, organizations and the diplomatic corps.
Organizers of “Hate-Free Zone” wish to congratulate the International Pride Day to all LGBT people, their relatives, friends and all those who support full equality of citizens and invite them to join the celebration of the 27th of June today at Belgrade’s Republic Square at 12 o’clock.
International Pride Day is marked around the world in memory of the Stonewall Revolution – first open riots against systematic arrests, persecutions and harassment 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 Stonewall Inn in New York, there occurred another police raid, which grew into a spontaneous physical confrontation between the police and LGBT people who decided to stand up to harassment 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, lead towards great positive changes. These protests mark the very beginning of organized 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 processes on an equal footing and not as concealed second-rate citizens with the burden of shame for their own existence.