Friday, October 8, 2010

Gays Without Borders rally at Serbian Mission

American LGBT Activists Rally In NYC; Express Solidarity With Serbian LGBT Community In Advance of 2010 Pride Parade In Belgrade.

October 8 (New York, NY) -- American gay activists rallied in New York City to support LGBT Serbians on the same day that the Serbian Orthodox Church denounced Sunday's gay pride parade in Belgrade, Serbia. A photograph of the activists Michael Petrelis and Andy Humm can be found on the NY Mobile News blog.

Gay Serbian organisations are set to mount their first LGBT Pride March in Belgrade on Sunday, October 10, amidst threats from right-wing anti-gay groups, which have prevented the Serbian LGBT community and allies from marching in past years. The purpose of today's demonstration outside the Serbian Mission was to raise international awareness of the threats of violence and intolerance being expressed in the days leading up to Sunday's gay pride parade.

Over a dozen activists turned out for the New York demonstration, which was sponsored by Gays Without Borders, among other groups. Mr. Petrelis was joined by Brendan Fay and another activist in New York ; together, the three activists were escorted inside the Serbian Mission, and the three activists delivered written communications to consular officials of the Serbian Mission. The remaining activists, meanwhile, were not allowed to enter the Serbian Mission, and no cameras were allowed to be carried inside. One of the letters delivered to consular officials expressed the activists' support of the gay Serbian parade participants, and that letter was signed by LGBT leaders from 23 countries around the world, according to Mr. Petrelis.

Now that it has applied to join the European Union, the government of Serbia must justify its qualifications and, among other things, account for its human rights record.

In 2009, the gay pride parade in Belgrade had to be called off after extremist groups threatened violence ; in response to the threats, the Serbian government could not guarantee the safety and security of parade participants.

The gay pride parade to be held on Sunday will only be the second time that such a parade takes place in Belgrade. In 2001, the first gay pride parade ended with a violent outbreak between police and parade participants.

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