The defiant organisers of EuroPride 2022 say they will not accept the Serbian president’s shocking declaration that the event has been cancelled.
EuroPride is a pan-European LGBTI event featuring a Pride parade, hosted by a different European city each year. The 2022 edition is set to take place alongside Belgrade Pride in Serbia between 12 to 18 September.
On Saturday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that the event would be cancelled or postponed, ostensibly due to tensions with neighbouring Kosovo and economic issues facing the country.
“Simply, at some point, you can’t handle everything,” said Vucic. “In another time, a happier one [it could take place].”
The organisers, however, have rejected President Vucic’s decision and plan to proceed with the event insisting that it is their right to do so.
“President Vucic cannot cancel someone else’s event,” asserted Kristine Garin, President of the European Pride Organisers Association – which licences EuroPride.
“EuroPride in Belgrade will not be cancelled and will bring together thousands of LGBTI+ people from across Europe with LGBTI+ people from Serbia and the wider western Balkans. It will bring many millions of Dinar into the local economy, and allow Serbia to show that it is on the road to being a progressive, welcoming European nation,” said Garin.
She pointed out that during the bidding process for EuroPride 2022, the openly LGBTQ Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic had promised the full support of the Serbian government for EuroPride in Belgrade. “And we expect that promise to be honoured,” added Garin.
Many believe the president’s decision is due to pressure from right-wing groups and the Serbian Orthodox Church who oppose the Pride event. Recent protests against EuroPride in Belgrade saw thousands turning out in the name of “protecting” the family and children while displaying religious symbols and posters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Garin urged the Serbian authorities to “stand firm against these bullies” and their “tired old tropes, inaccuracies and downright lies” instead of moving to cancel the event.
“The right to hold Pride has been ruled by the European Court of Human Rights to be a fundamental human right. Any attempt to ‘ban’ a Pride is a breach of Articles 11, 13 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights, ratified by Serbia as a member of the Council of Europe,” she continued.
In a statement, the UN in Serbia said it was concerned about the president’s announcement to ban EuroPride, describing it as a step backwards that would violate Serbia’s constitution and the country’s international human rights commitments.