Irish MEP Maria Walsh urges Serbian President to reconsider EuroPride cancellation

In a letter to Serbian President Vučić, Maria Walsh and other MEPs demanded that Belgrade EuroPride 2022 go ahead as planned.

MEP Maria Walsh, who recently urged Serbia to go ahead with EuroPride 2022 as planned.
Image: Via Twitter - @MariaWalshEU

Together with other MEPs, Midlands-North-West MEP Maria Walsh co-signed a letter to Serbian Prime Vučić and Prime Minister Brnabić urging them to reconsider the ban on EuroPride 2022, which was supposed to take place in Belgrade later in September.

On August 27, President Vučić announced that he was cancelling EuroPride 2022, citing threats from right-wing extremists as one of the reasons why the event was banned. Only a day after the announcement, thousands of nationalists and church supporters flooded the streets of the Serbian capital to protest against the already cancelled event, claiming they were trying to “save Serbia”.

In response to the cancellation of EuroPride, a pan-European LGBTQ+ festival that aims at bringing together the queer community from all over Europe, members of the European Parliament wrote a letter to demand that the event go ahead as scheduled. With 145 signatures and a number of rulings from the European Court of Human Rights cited to back their demands, the letter called for the ban to be revoked and for the Serbian government to deploy sufficient police protection to ensure the safety of the participants to the event.

As Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup in the EU Parliament, Maria Walsh was a leading figure in the charge against the ban of EuroPride and she will be travelling to Belgrade in September to support the event and the LGBTQ+ community. Before becoming a member of the European Parliament, Walsh made history in Ireland when she became the first openly queer woman to be crowned Rose of Tralee.

“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,” said MEP Walsh in relation to the cancellation. “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.”

She also added, “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.”

LGBTQ+ activists in Serbia said that they will defy the ban and go ahead with the Pride march no matter what. The organisers of the event announced that they are expecting more than 15,000 members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies to gather in Belgrade for EuroPride 2022.

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