”If proper pressure is put on the Serbian and Belgrade governments to protect the civil rights of the LGBT community, to allow them to exercise properly their right to assembly, then the attitudes of the populace, which are already milder than those of the extremists, will surely also change. To uphold these rights is an obligation already placed upon Serbia – as a member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the European convention on human rights, for example – but if it requires prodding, then so be it. By supporting legislation such as the 2009 anti-discrimination act, and by encouraging Serbia to protect its LGBT population, the shift can be accelerated.
The EU must tread carefully, though. In this most sensitive of areas, there is a thin line between encouraging and patronising, between universality and ethnocentrism. The situation is particularly fraught in Serbia, where nationalism has always thrived on a vision – one forged in bitter historical experience, it must be said – of an imperilled Serbia, in which outside interference is constant and to be resisted.
If the EU can encourage Serbia to embrace greater levels of tolerance without becoming overbearing, without meddling, then perhaps this year’s parade and the LGBT cause in Serbia in general are not dead. If it cannot, and if the notion of introducing true equality becomes successfully equated with caving in to neo-imperialism, then there is surely no hope at all.”
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