Forbidden Colours denounces the ban of EuroPride March in Belgrade

Pride cannot be banned.

On 13 September 2022, the Serbian Police announced that the march ending the celebrations of EuroPride in Belgrade was banned. Forbidden Colours denounces this decision.

The failure to organize and secure the event for hundreds of human rights activists demonstrates that the right of all citizens to march and protest peacefully is not guaranteed in Serbia. This shows that the key EU values of democracy and rule of law are not firmly rooted in the country. There is also much work ahead to ensure that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is fully endorsed and enforced in Serbia. This ban is without question a negative step in the process of Serbia’s accession to the European Union, demonstrating that the country is far from reaching the requirements. 

In light with this decision, Forbidden Colours calls for tangible and immediate efforts by the Serbian government to guarantee and protect the human rights of all LGBTIQ+ people in the country as well as for the European Commission and the European Council to take scrupulously into account the situation of LGBTIQ+ people in Serbia before granting the country a membership to the EU. 

This ban reflect badly on Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić who had promised a safe organization of Europride in 2019. But a strong responsibility also falls on the pro-Russian Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić. His intervention at the end of August calling for Europride celebrations to be cancelled or postponed fueled the feeling amongst anti-human rights protesters that the march was not welcomed in Belgrade and should be stopped. 

The organization behind EuroPride in Belgrade has already announced that they will appeal the ban in Court.

Yet, Belgium showed a decisive support to the event, helping to increase international pressure on the Serbian government to ensure that the peaceful march would take place. On 13 September, Petra de Sutter, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, participated in the opening panel of the International Human Rights conference, an event that gathered hundreds of human rights activists discussing how to improve the situation of LGBTIQ+ people in Serbia and beyond. On 14 September, forbidden colours executive director Rémy Bonny moderated a panel on how to ensure equality, diversity, and safety for LGBTIQ+ people counting with the participation of Stephanie D’Hose, President of the Senate of Belgium.

On 16 September, Pascal Smet, State Secretary of the Brussels-Capital Region for International Relations, took the floor at the closing panel of the conference. He also participated in the afternoon in a panel on how to make cities more open and inclusive to LGBTIQ+ people moderated by Vincent Reillon, Outreach and Policy Officer at Forbidden Colours.