Gay Eurovision fans issued with advice

Tony Grew May 8, 2008
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The British Embassy in Belgrade is funding the production of an information leaflet for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people planning to visit the city for the Eurovision Song Contest later this month.

The Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) of Belgrade will be producing the  leaflet, “with all kinds of useful information to be distributed to LGBT fans travelling to Belgrade.”

The GSA says it will contain “practical information on what kind of behaviour to avoid, what safety measures to take, useful telephone numbers etc.”

Last month representatives of GSA, Eurovision and the Serbian police officials met to discuss the possibility of homophobic violence at this years event.

The meeting, organised by GSA, sought assurances that the police will adequately protect visitors from homophobic attack.

Human rights activists have raised concerns that LGBT fans visiting Serbia will be targeted by fascist elements in the country.

Gay men are a particular target, according to the president of the fascist organisation Obraz, who announced his violent intentions in the pages of daily newspaper ALO! a few weeks ago.

Serbia won the right to host the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest after their entry to last year’s competition won.

Semi-finals will be held in Belgrade on 20th and 22nd May and the final on 24th May.

The European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) has written to the EBU, which is responsible for overseeing the hosting of the song contest.

“We are sure you are aware of the poor record of human rights in Serbia in general and regarding the human rights of lesbian, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people in particular,” wrote the EPOA’s Human Rights Co-ordinator Kurt Krickler.

“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. The Serbian LGBT movement has not recovered from these incidents.”

Police representatives have assured Eurovision organisers that there will be increased security for the event and an increased police presence near all tourist attractions.

“The police want to know the “hot spots” in Belgrade where especially large crowds of LGBT people will be meeting,” said GSA.

“Larger groups of LGBT fans booked on a package tour or for example residing in a specific hotel, therefore, should contact GSA at and inform them about this.

“They would pass on the information to the police so that extra police men can be placed at such hotels to secure the safety of people.

“People travelling to Belgrade should make sure to procure, upon arrival, one of these flyers.”

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