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UN rights chief urges Serbia to allow Belgrade Pride parade

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations human rights chief today urged Serbia to allow a Pride parade for the LGBT community to take place after authorities banned the public gathering, stressing that citizens should not be prevented from exercising their fundamental freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The Belgrade Pride parade, which was supposed to take place on Saturday, was banned by the Serbian Ministry of Interior based on security assessments. The same occurred last year after the parade held in Belgrade in 2010 faced attacks of violence, resulting in acts of vandalism and the wounding of many police officers and civilians.

“Responding to violent attacks against a vulnerable community by banning them from peacefully gathering and expressing themselves further violates their fundamental human rights,” said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “States should confront prejudice, not submit to it.”

She noted that Serbia’s progress in the promotion and protection of human rights since 2008 had been cited by a number of UN human rights mechanisms, and the Belgrade Pride Parade presents another opportunity for the Balkan country to reaffirm its commitment to the advancement of human rights, especially those of vulnerable communities.

“I urge the Government to take steps to ensure adequate protection of the LGBT community, as well as other vulnerable communities and minorities such as the Roma, so that they are able to exercise their freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” Pillay said, adding that the Government should facilitate the rescheduling of the parade.

Pillay reiterated the readiness of her office (OHCHR) to assist the Government in these efforts, in close partnership with international and regional organizations as well as national institutions and civil society organizations.

Serbia’s Universal Periodic Review before the UN Human Rights Council next year will provide another forum to analyze the steps the State has taken in the field of human rights, she added.