Pillay urges Serbia to allow LGBT parade, confront prejudice against minorities

GENEVA / BELGRADE (4 October 2012) - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Thursday regretted the decision by Serbian authorities to ban all public gatherings scheduled for this Saturday. She urged them to facilitate the rescheduling of a pride parade for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community that was planned for Saturday, instead of preventing its members from exercising their fundamental freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Pillay’s call came after a statement by the Serbian Ministry of Interior announcing that all public gatherings scheduled for Saturday would be banned based on security assessments. Last year's parade was also banned for security reasons. A pride parade held in Belgrade in 2010 faced attacks and violence, including by individuals who pelted the marchers with stones, threw bottles at the crowd and committed acts of vandalism. Many police officers and other individuals were injured.

"Responding to violent attacks against a vulnerable community by banning them from peacefully gathering and expressing themselves further violates their fundamental human rights," Pillay said. "States should confront prejudice, not submit to it.”

“I urge the Government to take steps to ensure adequate protection of the LGBT community, as well as other vulnerable communities and minorities such as the Roma, so that they are able to exercise their freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly."

The High Commissioner noted that Serbia`s progress in the promotion and protection of human rights since 2008 had been cited by a number of UN human rights mechanisms, adding that its Universal Periodic Review before the UN Human Rights Council next year would provide another forum to analyse the concrete steps the State has taken in the field of human rights.

"In recent years, Serbia has been demonstrating its strength in delivering on its human rights obligations, and the Belgrade Pride Parade 2012 will be another opportunity for it to reaffirm its commitment to the advancement of human rights for all, especially the most vulnerable communities," she said. “I urge the authorities to facilitate the rescheduling of the 2012 parade for the LGBT community.”

Pillay added that the UN Human Rights Office was ready to assist the Government of Serbia in these efforts, in close partnership with international and regional organisations as well as national institutions and civil society organisations.

UN Human Rights, country page – Serbia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/RSIndex.aspx

For additional information and media requests, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+ 41 22 917 9767 or rcolville@ohchr.org )or media officer Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 or rshamdasani@ohchr.org )

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