Pride parade was held in Budva, but there is still plenty to be done to affirm equal rights for all citizens

STEP Coalition, composed of eight NGOs from Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, strongly condemns the reckless acts of physical violence by the groups of citizens gathered in order to sabotage the first Montenegrin Pride Parade “Seaside Pride” held on 24 July 2013 in Budva, which were followed by hate speech towards the participants and organizers of this gathering.

Yesterday, in Budva, around 400 police officers were deployed to protect participants of the Parade, and the wider downtown was closed for traffic. STEP Coalition regretfully notices that at the very beginning of the Parade participants were thrown stones, glasses, bottles and other objects at by member of sport teams fun groups from the nearby restaurants, but even the individual citizens, which represents an open act of violence and evidence that Montenegrin society is still struggling high level of homophobia.

We want to praise successful effort of the police forces that, in spite of the incidents that have been recorded, managed to ensure the Parade, although it lasted shortly, and to arrest the perpetrators of violent acts. We remind that the authorities in Serbia three times failed, by banning the organization of the Pride Parade in last minute (2009, 2011 and 2012) and consequently violating to the LGBT community constitutionally granted right on freedom of assembly.

Also, the presence of representatives of certain political parties, institutions and human rights activists is strong contribution to raising awareness on the fact that any kind of exclusion, prejudice, marginalization of certain groups and their needs denies possibility of the full development of the entire society.

Once again, STEP Coalition STEP wants to express the appreciation to the colleagues from LGBT Forum Progress for courage in their persistent daily based struggle for the advancement of rights of LGBT people, assessing that Pride was huge step toward the recognition of LGBT rights in Montenegro, in spite of all the unpleasant aspect that followed it. In this context, we appeal on the authorities to perform the security assessment for the leader of LGBT Forum Progress Zdravko Cimbaljević, who in the eve of the ,,SeaSide Pride” was a target of monstrous hate expressions, and to take all necessary measures and actions in order to protect his life and the right to freedom of movement.

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

Milan Antonijević

Project coordinator