Video source: Gay-Straight Alliance
|Picture Gay-Straight Alliance|
Following a attack in Belgrade on a lesbian who was wearing gay symbols and the release by police of her attacker, the Serbia Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) held a large protest outside Serbian government officers on Wednesday under the slogan "It's enough!"
The protest was protected by a large number of police in riot gear, but there were no incidents.
The protesters carried banners with messages "These hands are not violent," "Homophobia is cured," "I do not tolerate torture," "Offenders in the four walls", "Violence on the streets-your own risk", "We are all A.Z" . and "Serbian not be silent." They waved the flag of the gay movement, but not the flag of Serbia.
The near-fatal attack on the lesbian was, said GSA, one of the most serious ones in the last several years.
"It is obvious that attackers no longer shrink from trying to take the lives of those who are of a different sexual orientation or who wear symbols of the LGBT movement. GSA therefore asks the relevant state institutions, and especially those politicians who have lately been talking about LGBT people and their activities in a negative context, if it is necessary that somebody be killed in order to finally realise how serious and severe the problems are that LGBT population in Serbia faces and in order to begin solving those problems."
Wednesday's protest demanded that the government of Serbia develop and implement a national program to combat violence and discrimination and pass a hate crimes law.
The woman that was attacked wrote:
"I am one of many that this is happening - it could happen to anyone of you!"
"I know that my friends are afraid to report similar attacks that are happening to them but I decided not to withdraw. I defended that night, and now I do not want to keep quiet! And it does not matter whether I'm lesbian or straight - someone tried to kill me!"
"I am bitter and angry that they let the one out who wanted to take my life ... What should happen to make it relevant and keep such dangerous refuge from the streets? If I had not resisted and managed to stab or kill me, would that be sufficient cause for detention? What happened to me will continue to happen until you stand up to bullies and those who instigate them."
"I want to live and I want my life to continue. I do not want to go anywhere, this is my city that I love and not let these maniacs tend to me from it. I do not want them to be pictures of Serbia and our future!"
President of the Gay Straight Alliance Lazar Pavlovic told reporters that members of the LGBT community want to live freely and without fear, like other citizens of Serbia.
He said that the release by a judge of those responsible for the most recent attack sent a message to the Serbian public that such violence against LGBT is permissible.
"People no longer wish to suffer such things. They are very unhappy. These things happen always, but very little reaches the public. People want to protect their lives, the state to finally move in a systematic crackdown on violence and discrimination," he said.Goran Miletic from the Organizing Committee of the Pride Parade in Belgrade told Deutche Welle that Serbia will now find it even more difficult to deal with homophobia because with their ban on Gay Pride, explained because of the threat of violence but widely viewed as linked to upcoming elections, the Serbian authorities sided with the opponents of the parade.
"Given what the state has done this year, the process will be even more difficult. The state this year banned all rallies. Representatives of the meetings were thus found in the same basket - extremists, and representatives of the Pride Parade. It gives a green light to all bullies and all those who are not at all well-meaning, that in the future attack sexual minorities."Coordinator of the National Strategy of Serbia for European Integration, Vladimir Todoric, told the Tanjug press agency:
"If members of this population still can not walk freely, if you are beaten up because of the clothes they wear, no one in Serbia is not guaranteed by any security or freedom of speech and behavior, and perhaps even the right to life."According to new figures from UNHCR on asylum applications in the first half of this year, Serbia remains one of the major sources for asylum claims in Western countries.