LGBTIQ: Is Serbian society beginning to understand?
At the beginning of September, the “Pride Week”, organized by various Serbian LGBTIQ organizations, took place in Belgrade. It was the eleventh time that the community stood up for their rights on the streets of the Serbian capital.
During the biggest demonstration so far, up to 15.000 people walked through Belgrade without any incidents, according to the organizers. For this year’s Pride Week, the organizing committee had issued the slogan “We’re not even close”, given that the Serbian LGBTIQ+ community is still exposed to violence and discrimination and that their demands for an improvement of the situation are “not even close” to being implemented.
On the part of the Serbian government, Tanja Miščević, Minister for European Integration, was present, and foreign guests included the United States Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill.
The question remains: What made this year's “Belgrade Pride” different from last year's “Euro Pride” that happened in Belgrade?
Last year, about 10.000 people from all over Europe gathered on a short route of just 350 meters, completely cordoned off by the police. As then-Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, a defender of ultraconservative values, explained, this was not “about any kind of walk” but about “escorting EuroPride participants to the final concert in Tašmajdan Park.”
This year there was a colourful parade from Manjež Park to the Serbian Parliament and back. It was a peaceful march through the central streets of the capital, a little longer than two kilometres. In terms of foreign languages, Russian and Ukrainian were heard most often – thanks to the new Belgrade citizens who fled Russia and Ukraine and supported the “Pride Walk” in large numbers.
The question remains unanswered how a seven-day hysteria last September – including presidential cancellations, Serbian Orthodox hate speech, declarations by European and Serbian politicians, and complete uncertainty in the community whether the “Pride Walk” would ultimately be allowed – could turn into an almost completely normal demonstration procession with several thousands of participants without a single incident within a year?
Has Serbian society indeed moved closer to the LGBTIQ+ community, or is it – as the organizers believe – still far from understanding the concerns and needs of homosexual and transsexual people? The holding of a “Pride Parade” in the heart of Belgrade without any hysteria, threats and incidents, gives hope. Or is it all just an illusion again, although slightly different coloured than last year?