Cabaret, street performance and film will all be on show at next week’s Queer Beograd X5 in Belgrade.
The festival begins on Thursday 18th with cabaret Direcktno featuring activists turned performers from London, Amsterdam and Berlin, and runs until Sunday.
“For safety reasons festival locations will be kept private until later,” according to the festival website, a telling indication of the climate for LGBT Serbians.
Serbia, which is not in the EU, is one of the least accepting countries for gay people in Europe.
A European Commission report on human rights in the country published last year said:
“In practice, discrimination is widespread, affecting in particular the Roma community, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities and persons of different sexual orientation.
“There have been incidents and attacks against organisations active in the promotion of peace, the fight against impunity or those defending the right to a different sexual orientation with insufficient follow-up by the law enforcement authorities. ”
A festival organiser told PinkNews.co.uk:
“Serbia has seen some changes in the last year, a referendum, the ‘passing’ of the so called constitution, the fall of government, the independence of Kosovo, yet another election. All the time the political climate moves increasingly to the far right neo fascist identity.
“It is from this position that we place the agenda for our festival as direct action and antifascism – because we always want to take the most concrete steps to build bridges to smash borders, to see our liberation linked with everyones.”
The festival website refers to the first planned Pride Parade in Belgrade in 2001, which was blocked “by large group of violent homophobic hooligans.
“Because this violence is a result of politics of war, clericalism, nationalism, militarism and machismo that has been mainstream politics in Serbia during last 15 years.
“Because a second attempt to make LGBTTIQ community and politics visible on streets of Belgrade in 2004 had to be cancelled because organisers again couldn’t guarantee participants’ safety.
“Because the state and citizens are still ignorant toward problems of LGBTTIQ population and all the others who are “Different.”
“Because Human Rights are abused on daily basis.
“That is why we have a new concept – we refused to spend time on worries about violence that might happen and hiring private security or police.
“We wanted to build exciting cooperation between people on an international and local level, to have fun, and to promote queer politics.”