Amnesty International warns of violence at Belgrade Pride

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Human rights organisation, Amnesty International today warned of a risk of right wing groups threatening the safety of next week’s pride march in Belgrade.

The march, which is due to take place on the 10th October will be the first in the capital of Serbia since 2001. Then, the march was broken up by violent attacks on the participants by extremists, including football hooligans and members of far-right organisations.

Amnesty International Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said: “Amnesty has already learnt of several attempts to intimidate individual gay rights activists.
“The threats are designed to inflame prejudice, increase hostility and encourage violence, and all with one simple aim – to destroy the gay community in Serbia. They cannot be allowed to continue. The Serbian authorities must take a tough stance.
“Under international and domestic law, the Serbian authorities must guarantee the rights to freedom to assembly, expression and association to the LGBT community and their supporters.
“The police must immediately investigate all threats, identify possible security risks from counter-demonstrators and guarantee the safety of participants.
“Political leaders should state publicly and unequivocally that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have the right to demonstrate and that anyone trying to violate these rights will be brought to justice.”

He added: “Diversity and tolerance, equality before the law for all, no discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity grounds, are all messages that LGBT rights activists will take to the streets on 10 October. They must be able to do so without fear of threats and threats.”

Last year, after organisers met with police, they said that the event had been cancelled as a result of high security risks and a lack of co-operation from the police that meant they had no choice but to call off the event.

Serbian President Boris Tadic warned against creating an “atmosphere of chaos'” and “threats and violence”. He said: “The state will do everything to protect people, whatever their national, religious, sexual or political orientation, and no group must resort to threats and violence, or take justice into its own hands and jeopardize the lives of those who think or are different.”

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