WASHINGTON—Leaders of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) today expressed support for the Serbian government’s recent actions to stand up for basic rights of gay-rights demonstrators.
“We applaud and support the Serbian authorities for seeking to protect the fundamental rights of those in the Belgrade gay-rights parade to express their views,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Helsinki Commission Chairman. “From the statements of senior Serbian officials condemning the violence instigated by right-wing groups to the efforts of the police to stop it and arrest the perpetrators, the official response has been the correct one.”
More than 150 people were injured, many of them police, as anti-gay rioters trying to reach the Belgrade Pride parade clashed with authorities, throwing rocks, setting cars on fire and vandalizing buildings Sunday.
“The intolerance which is the basis for the recent violence in Belgrade is neither unique to Serbia nor limited to anti-gay sentiment,” said Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL). “Intolerance manifests itself in many other countries of Europe, as well as here in the United States. While defeating hatred and discrimination takes time, the only way to start combating these sentiments is through responsible political leadership and adherence to the rule-of-law.”