Everyone has the right to freedom of expression and assembly

STEP Coalition, gathering eight NGOs from Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro, strongly condemns hate speech and call for lynch of the organizers of the first Montenegrin Pride Parade “Seaside Pride” which is scheduled for 24 July 2013 in Budva.

Despite the fact of extremely high level of homophobia in the Montenegrin society indicated by numerous public opinion polls, we are concerned with the brutality of messages filled with hatred, intolerance and calls for violence against the LGBT population, which in the previous days flooded the public space reminding us of a long and challenging path in fight against prejudices and creation of the society with developed human rights culture.

Pride Parade is just one of the legitimate ways, based on the principles of the Constitution and laws of the state of Montenegro, by which members of the LGBT community want to draw attention to their predicament and try to fight for equality in the enjoyment of their rights and freedoms without fear of violence and condemnation. In that respect, we express our full support for the organization of “Seaside Pride” considering it important not just for improving of the position of members of LGBT community, but also for the overall democratic development of Montenegro.

STEP Coalition hopes that the relevant institutions, which supported the organization of the event, will ensure the safety of all participants. Also, we expect a fast and efficient response by the relevant authorities in prosecuting threats and calls for lynching that the leader of LGBT Forum Progress Zdravko Cimbaljević got in past few days, including the publication of the obituary with his full name and photo.

STEP Coalition appeals to all the citizens to try to understand that cohabitation of diversity is not only necessity, but also wealth and advantage of modern society, and that any kind of exclusion, prejudice, marginalization of certain groups and their needs denies the possibility of the full development of the entire society.

We wish once again to express our appreciation to the colleagues from LGBT Forum Progress for bravery in their daily persistent struggle for improvement of the position of LGBT people, as well as hope that tomorrow’s “Seaside Pride” will be conducted in the peaceful atmosphere and without violence.

Coalition STEP is composed of: YUCOM, Belgrade Center for Human Rights, CHRIS Network for Human Rights, Gay Straight Alliance (Serbia); Humanitarian Law Centre and Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Kosovo); Centre for Civic Education (CCE) and LGBT Forum Progress (Montenegro).

On behalf of the STEP coalition,

Petar Đukanović,
Programme coordinator in the CCE