While millions of North Americans have celebrated who they are in the best show on earth (Pride) and celebrities are pronouncing “It Gets Better”, Serbia is caving in to far right pressures and anti-LGBTQ groups using car bombs and looting to make their point.
Last year, when two similar events occurred in Serbia’s capital, there were 100 arrests of far-right extremists who clashed with gay activists. In reaction to last year’s events, Interior Minister Ivica Dacic decided to ban this year’s events to “avoid the bloodshed,” and incidentally, eliminating any political hope for those non-heterosexual Serbians.
Serbia has hopes to eventually join the European Union, but is not doing itself any favours by banning the march. The country has been under pressure by the EU to join the fight for equality by defending LGBTQ and ethnic rights, but has as of yet, not made any moves toward that goal.
Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej declared Pride events, a “parade of shame” that is “foreign to our history, tradition and culture”. I am pretty sure that is what Stephen Harper thinks too, but regardless, Pride is a major event in all major Canadian cities. In other words, regardless of criticism, human rights are still fought for in Canada and other countries, the freedom to act, to dance, to be seen despite opposition is what we stand for and believe in. Serbia should take some notes.
“It is totally unbelievable that police have not clamped down against the extremists,” said Goran Miletic of the Pride March organizing committee. “We have spent four months preparing the gay pride march, and the authorities have done nothing.” Not surprising considering the attitude of their political leader.
I find it shameful that a nation would ban a march for the rights of people because of the actions of narrow minded bullies that use religion and ignorance as a means of hate. I also have so much sympathy for the Serbian queer community. The fact that they have survived in a country that clearly has a target on their backs, and continue to be out, and to struggle, is the true definition of heroism and queer activism.
While celebrating Pride in the year to come, I think it is important to remember that we must remain a global family. We need to understand that we are not treated equal, in fact we are not even close. The fact that a developed country could even consider shutting down a Pride march because of fear of the anti-gay protesters is unacceptable. The march should be allowed, in fact it should be encouraged. The authorities should be defending these non-violent marchers and arresting anyone that disrupts this. Serbia has done is take the side of the right-wing thugs. They have declared that the Pride march is not important enough to defend.
Via @ The Bay Window
In the Headlines:
Dorothy Snarker. Major Glee Spoilers: What is in store for Brittany and Santana? AfterEllen.com, (October 4, 2011).
Winston Gieseke. Study: Gay Men Offered Fewer Job Interviews, The Advocate, (October 4, 2011).
Diane Anderson-Minshall. Anderson Cooper, Rodemeyer Parents Confront Bullies, (October 4, 2011).