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Protests in Serbia after anti-LGBTQ+ violence

Pride in Serbia 2019: Bojan Cvetanović

Serbia’s LGBTQ+ activists rallied to demand state action following a spate of violence against LGBTQ+ people, including a stabbing that injured a young man. Participants held flags and rainbow banners as they urged the authorities to act decisively to curb violence against LGTBQ+ community and promote tolerance.

The gathering dubbed “Hate kills!” was held in the park in central Belgrade that was the site of the attack, in connection with which police have arrested two suspects. “We will no longer tolerate such attacks that have become frequent,” said activist Aleksandar Savic. In late February two brutal attacks took place in which four young men were injured. In Manjez Park in Belgrade, one person  was stabbed with a knife while two other men were attacked with a bottle. The day after, someone was injured by the security detail of a Belgrade club. “These incidents are motivated by hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community and represent the most serious threat to our security,” the organizations stressed.

Action is needed

Besides meeting the Police Minister, they are urging the police to find and sanction the perpetrators according to the law, calling on institutions to act in accordance with international standards in the field of protection and support of victims. Brankica Jankovic Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, condemned the attacks, emphasizing that the authorities must find and sanction the perpetrators as soon as possible, According to the association, “Da se zna!” almost 90 per cent of victims of homophobic and transphobic incidents reported to the authorities do not have any information about the cases they reported. “Da se zna!” has recorded 68 incidents motivated by homophobia and transphobia since August last year alone.

No protection

Victims of anti-LGBTQ+ violence often face further harm when making a report, and their cases rarely result in court proceedings. There are no legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, and same-sex marriage and adoption are not allowed. This lack of legal protection leaves LGBTQ+ individuals vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse, both from private individuals and from the government. Authorities have pledged to boost LGBTQ+ rights as Serbia seeks European Union membership, but harassment and violence against LGBTQ+ people remain widespread.

Serbia has taken some steps to protect the LGBTQ+ community. In 2014, Serbia amended its Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The government has also passed a law that makes it illegal to incite hatred or violence against any person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, the government has implemented an antidiscrimination campaign and has started to provide sensitivity training for police officers. Despite these efforts, there is still much work to be done to ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals in Serbia are safe from discrimination and violence.

Four organisations from the Western Balkans launched a joint campaign to collect signatures for a regional declaration on the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. With this declaration, they want to encourage social-democratic and democratic parties and their members from the entire region to actively support and fight for respect for LGBTQ+ rights