by Leander Milbrecht
The Association of European Pride Organisers (EPOA) sent an important signal on Saturday. The vote on the venue of Europride 2022 had an unequivocal result: 71 percent of the participants from all European countries voted for Belgrade and thus sent a clear message of support to queer people throughout Eastern Europe.
The competitors, including Barcelona and Dublin, had no chance. And not although, but because Belgrade is not a city known as particularly LGBTI-friendly. The first attempts to hold a Pride here were brutally crushed by counter-demonstrators in 2001 and 2010. For security reasons, the Pride was banned in the following years; it was not until 2015 that it took place again and was relatively peaceful for the first time.
EPOA President Kristine Garine said: “Pride has always been a protest and EuroPride will have a major impact on LGBTI people in Belgrade, Serbia and the region as a whole. The fact that the members voted for Belgrade shows the association’s willingness to see EuroPride have its maximum impact”, Garine continued.
Difficult situation for LGBTI people
Serbia is not a member state of the EU – but it aims at becoming one. The success of EuroPride as a peaceful demonstration for human rights could also send an important signal to the whole country and influence its political future.
The Serbs’ attitude towards homosexuality is currently regarded as rather negative. According to The Guardian newspaper of 2017, 78% of Serbs believe that homosexuality should not be shown in public. 65% of the respondents were convinced that homosexuality was a disease.
But there is hope: In the same year of The Guardian’s panel, the openly lesbian politician Ana Brnabić (44) became Prime Minister of Serbia. Together with her partner, she also took part in that year’s Pride in Belgrade. It is still not possible for same-sex couples to marry or enter into a registered civil partnership in Serbia. Since 2009, however, there is an anti-discrimination law that explicitly applies to sexual orientation.
EuroPride 2020 will take place in Thessaloniki, Greece. In 2021, Denmark’s capital Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmö will host jointly EuroPride. EuroPride has not taken place in Germany (Hamburg) since 2004 .
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