Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Dutch Diplo Talk

An important step for tolerance

1 Oct 2014

The first step towards realizing one’s goals is always significant. Sunday 28 September Belgrade made such a step: it had its first successful, joyous and generally peaceful Pride Parade! The atmosphere was happily so different from 2010 when the Pride was marred by rioters battling security forces, causing extensive damage and threatening participants and bystanders. Having joined the Parade in support of the Pride organization and the LGBT community in Serbia in 2010, it was a real pleasure joining this September the members of the embassy staff who dedicated so much time and effort in supporting the organizers of the Pride. Human Rights are indivisible, the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech cannot be granted to some and denied to others. Meeting again many participants who were at the 2010 Pride or who had taken part in the Pride Parades in Montenegro I could sense the excitement and joy that the march was now really happening, having had to swallow three years of disappointment as the Pride Parade was banned because of security concerns.

Back in 2010 police authorities had to evacuate the participants to distant suburbs of Belgrade and out of sight of the hooligans. This year was very different, as the Parade took place without incidents or significant disturbances of public order. The participation of several ministers added to the positive feel of this Parade. Only one element remained the same as in 2010: the need for massive police protection. No less than 7.000 officers were needed to secure 1.300 participants. It is a sign that there is still a long way to go before full acceptance of the Pride will be realized. The Serbian authorities have, however, taken all the necessary measures to ensure that the Parade could take place. Public order was maintained and the authorities showed commitment to protect the right of the LGBT community to peaceful demonstration and freedom of speech. The Embassy will continue to support the Serbian authorities and the LGBT community in their efforts to combat discrimination, whether it concerns the right of peaceful demonstration or combatting discrimination in education, at the workplace and in social life. The action plan of the government in implementing the anti-discrimination strategy will be an important part of this effort. I assured the LGBT community of this commitment during my short speech at the request of the organizers after the Parade.

This blog was posted earlier in Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade.

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About the author

Laurent Stokvis
Written by Laurent Stokvis

Dutch ambassador to Serbia

Laurent Louis Stokvis was born on 14 April 1950 in Jakarta. He works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as of 1975. In the period between 2002 and 2006 he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Slovak Republic. Between 2006 and 2010, he worked as Director in the Directorate for the Western Hemisphere. He has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Serbia in September 2010. He is married and has one child.