While marriage equality is on the rise throughout United States and some countries in the EU, Serbia is on the verge of becoming the Russia or Uganda of the Balkans and the Europe. Why? Every day there is a case of someone being at least verbally attacked or physically harassed and beat up by a group of uncivilized human beasts. Just because the victims looked “different”, or they somehow seemed like they were “gay”.
There is never an excuse for violence. Never. Except if it’s a self-defense act. Which means unwillingly defending yourself from violence. In order to survive. To defend your own life.
Both of the cases mentioned above were reported to the Belgrade city E.R. service (and thus, automatically to the police services - at least it should be like that), but there is still not even a word in the Serbian media about these assaults or the people responsible. As if these cases are not interesting enough for the Serbian media. Hmmmm. Or for the Serbian authorities to deal with. Like, who cares if some crazy uncivilized people are beating up those “faggots”? Right? It is justifiably assumed that there are unfortunately many more unregistered and unreported assaults like these. Or even worse cases that we do not really get to hear or read about.
Without going deep into the problematic of the Belgrade Pride March itself, of the organizer’s shady politics, pointless politic demands, their absence during the whole year, seasonal opportunism and the organizer’s complete detachment from the LGBT community and the everyday reality of LGBT people in Serbia, we can conclude that Belgrade Pride March 2014 didn’t bring ANY positive social change at all. It’s obvious it was all fake. Further more, Serbia’s example of Belgrade Pride Parade was used in the OSCE/ODIHR conference on freedom of assembly as an example of good practice, disregarding the overall status of the LGBT people and freedom of assembly in Serbia, which our both deteriorating. Fake in a sense that it was just organised to show that Serbia, as a country, is capable of obeying demands of patrons such is the European Union or any other international body, the deity our country is so eager to become a part of. Wishful thinking, dear folks.
LGBT people in Serbia are still so scared of outing, so scared of stigmatizing, scared of further assaults and discrimination. Why? They don’t have any proper support from our society. There is ZERO outed celebrities in Serbia. Zero. None. Everyone is still scared.
The fact is that LGBT people are also afraid to even talk about their experiences because police and legal services are not protective and effective as they claim to be by the Serbian Constitution. LGBT people in Serbia are constantly scared for their lives and continue to live in their symbolic prisons in fear for their safety.
The first case mentioned above (male, 26, A.S.) happened on the second day of April, in a park under Terazije, in the center of the City of Belgrade. It was crowded with people passing by. Three male attackers started kicking a young, thin, fashionably dressed man in the face. Nobody came to help the victim, or to cheer the attackers. So we can conclude that the bystanders are the greatest social evil of all. Not having the courage to attack, not having the guts to help the person in need. Burn in hell, bystanders. And then the attackers ran away.
The second attack (male, 31, G.M.) happened between 15th and 16th of April, in Makenzijeva Street, one connecting two of the most beautiful parts of Belgrade - Vračar and Old Town. It was past 3 AM, this young man was walking home in his usual path, when suddenly a few attackers started shouting “faggot” at him and then they tripped him from behind, making him fall down and lose his eye glasses. He couldn’t see their faces. They started kicking him in his ribs and stomach. After they finally stopped, he tried to get up and walk back home, when they started shouting “We will kill you, you fucking faggot, if you don’t disappear right now. We’ll kill you”. And he managed to run away.
These two cases are just some of the hate-based crime in Serbia. Earlier, in September 2014, German citizen was brutally attacked from behind, also in the center of Belgrade, just because he was German. Buzzfeed reported on this topic. It was later revealed that he was also a participant in an international LGBT conference in Belgrade. The fact that this attack happened at the same time Germany’s Human Rights Commissioner, Christoph Strässer visited Belgrade, and two weeks before the announced Belgrade Pride March, led to the actual EU pressure on Serbian authorities and thus, the Pride March happened. There is a very serious debate going on behind the Belgrade Pride Parade and the people who are organizing it. Why aren’t they active and visible throughout the whole year? Beats me. They are obviously active only when they are paid to do so. Which means a couple of months a year.
(the graffiti above says “gay stop! they shall not walk” - as a response to the Belgrade Pride Parade)
Knowing that there is not much news around this topic going on out there, please consider sharing this story around. Why? Because we want people around the world to know the situation we are facing here every single day. We want that everyone knows that we are putting our heads in a bag every time we step out in the street. We are not a special case. There are countries like ours all over the world.
Our message here and now is: DON’T BE A BYSTANDER. Ever. Please. Help those in need. If anything, you or your loved ones might be those in need for help. When you least expect it.
Words written by: Lazara Marinkovic and the team behind IDAHO Belgrade
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