International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

UN Coordinator-Canceling EuroPride would be negative advertising for Serbia

September 9, 2022
As a European Union accession country, Serbia cannot afford to ban the Pride, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia Francoise Jacob said in an interview with Voice of America, adding that this is not advisable and that she is sure the state leadership knows that.
Even if EuroPride is canceled people will march and that might be even more problematic in terms of security, said Jacob.
The march itself and the whole week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Serbia and Belgrade, to showcase the fact that there is freedom here in every sense of the word, she said, noting that marches and other Pride events have been taking place in Belgrade for a decade.
“I think this year’s event is the culmination in a way – the recognition that this is an important topic for this country. There was a commitment made by both the authorities and the whole community two or three years ago to hold the EuroPride and it’s the first time that this event is held in a Southeastern European country. It is a major event and a major opportunity from many different perspectives. In addition, there is a fairly large LGBTI community here in Serbia and they need to be recognized. The fight for their rights will continue to prevail over the years to come,” Jacob said, adding that the EuroPride is much more than a march which is its most visible part.
Jacob said the EuroPride is an opportunity to show what is being done and what is still missing in terms of the equality of rights for all human beings. She assessed that these are the key reasons for organizing the EuroPride in addition to it being an opportunity to just showcase Belgrade as a future capital city within Europe.
The EuroPride has not been canceled yet, said Jacob, adding: “There’s been a declaration but as far as I know, the preparations continue, not only for the events throughout the week, the Human Rights Conference, the different theatre events, but also for the major visible events like concerts and the march.”
“All of us talking about the Pride, including the political leadership, we need to move away from a conversation that is pouring oil on fire. We need to continue the conversation about the Pride, about what it means, in a way that brings people together, not that takes people further apart. This is a country and a region where we don’t need more topics to take people apart. We need to work on social cohesion. No matter how sensitive this topic is, or how difficult it is for some communities on both sides of the line, we need to make sure that we provide a platform for engagement not reasons for further dividing and splitting of the society,” said the UN Resident Coordinator.
This Pride is officially registered, this particular one was planned in advance so canceling it would not be a very coherent signal, said Jacob, adding that it needs not to be linked to other current political contexts because it is a point in itself, one “that is important for the society.”
Jacob said the event has attracted the interest of many foreigners and official dignitaries and that several European officials and ministers have said that they would attend. “What the current situation and the current sort of visibility has done is instead of lowering the visibility and the interest about the event, it has actually completely brought out the visibility,” said Jacob.
“Frankly I think it would be a disaster for Serbia to cancel the Pride and for this EuroPride not to take place because that would be so visible,” said Jacob, explaining that this attracts much international media attention and that it would make the headlines. “If it is actually canceled it is just going to be a kind of negative advertising that Serbia doesn’t need,” she said.
Jacob said she believes that things have been taken out of proportion this year, for various and wrong reasons and that a space needs to be found for the different parties to come back to an agreement, to calm the situation and to again talk about rights rather than about things related to politics.
“I don’t think the top leadership is supporting this side or that side,” said Jacob, noting that Serbia has an openly gay female prime minister who has been reappointed. I think there is a part of the political community that is dedicated to improving the rights of the LGBTI population, she said.
The Minister of Human and Minority Rights promoted all these issues through dialogue, and a working group was set up on same sex unions, which I worked with. I have seen lots of discussions, lots of arguments, said Jacob.
“We were going in the right direction – not fast enough – but it was happening. This year I think what it happening is not good, and it was unexpected,” said Jacob, describing the announced postponement or canceling of EuroPride as a tactical error.
I am hoping that the whole EuroPride will take place, that it will be an opportunity to reopen the discussion because the situation has showed that there is still strong resistance, said Jacob. “We need to address this resistance which is sometimes purely political, but sometimes it is based on ignorance of what the real topics are,” said the UN Resident Coordinator.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/un-coordinator-canceling-europride-would-be-negative-advertising-for-serbia/

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