It's being reported by local media outlets that a Serbian Orthodox church bishop is facing criticism after appearing to call for armed attacks on the EuroPride event that will be held in Belgrade in September.
Bishop Nikanor Bogunović of Banat reportedly said that he would “curse” all the participants of EuroPride. Video footage of the bishop making the statements in a sermon to his church have been posted to YouTube.
According to media reports, the bishop claimed that LGBTQ people would “come to Belgrade and flaunt and desecrate the city of Belgrade, the holy Serbian city.”
He reportedly went on to say that: “I will curse all those who organise and participate in something like that. I can do that much. If I had a weapon, I would use it, I would use that force if only I had it, but I do not.”
As the EuroPride event draws closer, we can expect homophobic rhetoric to continue to increase.
Marko Mihailović is one of the lead coordinators of EuroPride in Belgrade.
“With this event, we can show the LGBTQ community around the world that the battle is not yet won..." says Mihailović. "It’s nice that you can be openly LGBTQ in your own city, but there are still plenty of cities around the world where the community is oppressed and where the struggle for equality continues. Showing solidarity is essential. We want to show the rest of the world what we struggle with. Our struggle has been going on for twenty years, and we still don’t have equal rights. We hope that EuroPride will bring extra visibility and momentum, and that the position of LGBTQ people will improve not only in Serbia but throughout the Western Balkans. This potentially also brings economic, democratic and political benefits.”
Mihailović is convinced that tourists who visit EuroPride don’t have to worry about their safety.
“Belgrade can’t afford bad PR should something happen to one of the visitors. Of course there are things you should not do: I would really advise against walking hand in hand or kissing your partner in the street. We will provide information to Pride visitors so they know what to look out for.”
Mihailović feels that the situation is improving little by little.
“When I went to clubs as a teenager, it was quite normal for hooligans to be waiting for you at the exit to beat you up. Tear gas bombs were also regularly thrown inside. Such situations are unimaginable today. We see queer characters more and more in Serbian TV series who are not portrayed as clowns, but who lead normal lives. There is indeed progress.”
In 2017, the openly lesbian Ana Brnabić became Prime Minister.
“Having a lesbian prime minister has contributed greatly to the visibility of our community…” adds Mihailović. “At the same time, she has barely done anything for us.”
What's life like for LGBTQ people in Serbia?
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Serbia? Let’s take a look at some of the key equality indicators.
Is homosexuality legal in Serbia?
Yes.The history of Serbia is fairly complex, but in simple terms homosexuality was decriminalised in 1994.
Are there anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ people in Serbia?
Yes. Comprehensive anti-discrimination protections came into effect in 2009.
Is there Marriage Equality in Serbia?
No. There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Serbia. The constitution explicitly limits marriage to opposite-sex couples.
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Serbia?
Serbia is a socially conservative country, and homophobia remains widespread.