4 October 2012
Keith Taylor, MEP has condemned the Serbian government’s last minute decision to cancel the country’s annual Pride march.
The Green Party’s MEP for South East England and member of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT rights said the move showed the Serbian authorities still have work to do on accepting their diversity and human rights responsibilities.
He said: ‘I’m deeply disappointed that this year’s Pride march has been cancelled. There is obviously a continuing job of work to do to persuade the Serbian authorities to accept their responsibilities in facilitating diversity and human rights.
‘Otherwise they abdicate their duty for ethical administration in favour of mob rule.
‘For a state with an eye on joining the EU they will need to up their performance in this as well as many other areas.’
Mr Taylor had planned to attend Belgrade Pride, scheduled for Saturday, October 6, but the state’s National Security Council chose to outlaw it and any other public gathering, due to fears for public safety.
It is the second consecutive year the march has been stopped by the Serbian government.
Belgrade Pride took place safely in 2010, but material damage led the authority to cite ‘safety concerns’ as its reason to stop the 2011 march.
He continued: 'Unfortunately yet again this year, Serbian homophobes won by threatening large-scale unrest and violence. Why does Serbia continue to allow high-risk football matches, providing police protection from hooligans but not homophobes? The theme for this year’s Belgrade Pride is the three universal values of love, faith and hope. But these need to be more than just words. There is a need for more understanding and respect for LGBT people in Serbia.'
Mr Taylor will travel to Belgrade tomorrow as planned, where he will meet the event’s organisers and LGBT rights campaigners to learn more about their experiences in Serbia.
He will also convey a message of support from the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, a city known for its annual LGBT pride event, to the Mayor of Belgrade.
He added: 'I am proud to belong to a political party that has been at the forefront of LGBT rights. This year we held our 20th annual pride in Brighton and Hove. It has been a long and steady progress for us, and working alongside the police and health authorities we see real benefits from a greater integration of LGBT people in our city. I will bring a message from the Mayor of Brighton to give to Dragan Djilas, the Mayor of Belgrade.'
The European Parliament has closely followed developments in Serbia, and regularly called on the Serbian Republic to ensure all non-governmental organisations can safely organise public demonstrations.
Mr Taylor will also take a message of support from human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, while celebrities including Stephen Fry, Miriam Margolyes, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Wilde and Holly Johnson have also sent messages to march organisers in Belgrade.
Spokespeople available for interview