Group of embassies in Serbia back Pride Parade

BELGRADE -- Embassies of several European countries, Canada and Australia backed on Wednesday the staging of the Pride Parade in Belgrade.

(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)

They called on the Serbian authorities to ensure a peaceful and secure environment for all participants.

The letter signed by representatives of 14 embassies in Serbia was addressed to Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivica Dačić and Goran Miletić of the Pride Parade Organization Board.

In the letter, the embassies of Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Croatia, Belgium, Canada and Australia noted that the Pride Parade Organization Board has already requested the necessary permits and expressed the hope that the authorities would grant them.

“A peaceful and joyous Pride in Belgrade on 28 September, properly secured by the authorities, would be another signal of Serbia's commitment to creating a culture of tolerance and diversity, and will counter stigmatisation and stereotyping, as well as hate speech, discrimination and violence,” the letter states.

The signatories of the letter expressed support to the 'celebration of diversity' and called on Serbia's political leaders and holders of office in the relevant authorities to facilitate a peaceful and secure environment for the Pride this year.

“It is the responsibility for the government to stimulate a culture of tolerance and social inclusion towards the LGBT community. That same tolerance must be shown towards groups which hold opposing views,” stated the letter sent to the government.

The foreign diplomats said that the Serbian authorities should ensure that others wishing to exercise their legitimate right of free speech in opposition to a parade do so in a peaceful and non-confrontational way.

The embassies also called for pronouncement of punishments for all those responsible for violence and threats against the participants in the Pride Parade, and noted that such actions should be correctly prosecuted according to Serbian law.

In 2009, the authorities banned the Pride Parade, and in 2010, it was held under heavy police protection. In 2011, the authorities banned the Parade for security reasons and in 2012, it was held indoors.