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Eurovision attendees fear anti-gay attacks

By |2018-01-16T17:38:23-05:00April 24th, 2009|News|

by Rex Wockner

International News

Far-right groups in Serbia reportedly have threatened to harm the throngs of gay people who typically travel to attend the campy Eurovision Song Contest.
The 53rd extravaganza will be in Belgrade this year because Serbian singer Marija Serifovic won last year’s contest, which was held in Helsinki. Forty-three countries have entered the contest, which culminates May 24.
The European Pride Organisers Association has been pressuring the European Broadcasting Union to guarantee the safety of gay attendees, but is dissatisfied with the response it has received.
In a letter to EPOA Human Rights Coordinator Kurt Krickler, the EBU’s executive supervisor for the contest, Svante Stockselius, said: “The EBU does not separate our fans into groups based on their religion, colour, sexual preferences or others. We have a guarantee for the safety of delegations, press and fans issued by the president of Serbia. This guarantee includes all.”
Krickler wrote back: “We are not really convinced and reassured by the guarantees of the Serbian authorities, including the Serbian president, given to the EBU. … EPOA wants to stress that we will certainly also hold the EBU accountable and responsible if homophobic incidents of violence occur during and immediately after the ESC as we have explicitly warned you well in advance of the specific situation and the exceptional homophobic attitudes in Belgrade and Serbia. The EBU could hardly pretend they were not alerted and aware of the danger and likelihood of homophobic attacks during the ESC.”
In an earlier letter to Stockselius, Krickler cited a “poor record of human rights in Serbia in general and regarding the human rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people in particular.”
“In June 2001, the first gay pride march in Belgrade was brutally attacked by a huge violent crowd of nationalist extremists and hooligans; dozens of people were left massively hurt and injured in the streets while the police failed to provide adequate protection,” Krickler said, providing a YouTube link to bolster his assertion.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.