Maria Walsh MEP insists Belgrade EuroPride Festival must take place as scheduled

MEP Walsh has co-authored a letter to the Serbian President and Prime Minister calling for the festival to be reinstated with sufficient police protection

Midlands-North-West MEP Maria Walsh is leading the charge in the European Parliament and demanding that Belgrade EuroPride 2022 go ahead as scheduled. In recent days, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić announced that the EuroPride festival will not be held in Belgrade later this month, citing security concerns as the reason behind its cancellation. Walsh is now calling for the protection of the pan-European celebration and has said she will be travelling to Belgrade for the festival as planned. 

Belgrade EuroPride 2022 is scheduled to take place from September 12 to 18 in the Serbian capital and organisers met with government and city authorities as recently as last week as part of the planning for EuroPride.The annual EuroPride festival features a Pride parade and is an independently organised event hosted in a different city every year. The host city is chosen annually, either for its political significance or the size of the LGBT community. 

As Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup in the EU Parliament, MEP Walsh has co-authored a letter to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime-Minister Ana Brnabic, calling on them to maintain the organisation of EuroPride 2022 and to deploy sufficient police protection to ensure its safety. Receiving widespread support from across the political spectrum within the Parliament, the letter carried 145 signatures and cited a number of rulings from the European Court of Human Rights backing their demand. 

MEP Walsh is aware that there are threats to the security of protestors, but maintains that banning the event outright is not the right solution. Walsh is now urging the Serbian leadership to enable EuroPride to take place as scheduled, and to commit to deploying sufficient law enforcement to guarantee its safety, thereby ensuring that all attendees can exercise their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

“Pride demonstrations are a hallmark of LGBTIQ activism and a pillar for social visibility. Equally, they are political demonstrations during which the community voices its concerns, highlights its achievements and gives the opportunity to its members to demonstrate in favour of equality. Pride demonstrations are peaceful tools for political advocacy and one way in which the universal right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is crystallised,” said MEP Walsh. 

When first elected an MEP, Walsh’s main priority was to fight for equality in all its forms, and in particular LGBTI rights through her work in the LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament. MEP Walsh will be travelling to Belgrade in September with the other members of the LGBTI Intergroup to support the EuroPride organisers and the wider LGBTI community. 

“Prides remain a crucial visibility tool for the LGBTIQ community all over the world and I will be travelling to Belgrade later this month, as planned. I urge the Serbian leadership to act positively and allow the EuroPride plans to be reinstated immediately,” she added.