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today we’re celebrating in Belgrade a festival of tolerance and diversity – loud and colourful, peaceful and full of hope!
Human rights belong to everyone, without exception – regardless of ethnic or religious background, gender or sexual identity. Let me be very clear: When we talk about LGBTI rights, we aren’t thinking about exclusive rights or privileges for minorities. LGBTI rights are human rights!
What we are fighting for is an open, tolerant and liberal society, in which everybody is treated as an equal citizen. Love is love – and it doesn’t matter at all if men love men, if women love women or if men love women.
I am very glad to be back in Belgrade this year for Pride Week and to participate in the Parade. After 2015 and 2016 it is already my third stay in Belgrade during Pride Week.
This year, once again we demonstrated peacefully for the rights of LGBTI – that is a big success. It seems to me that the number of participants is increasing from year to year, while the number of police forces securing us and the number of protesters against us is decreasing. This is a good sign, as it speaks for normalisation, even if it’s slow.
On days like this we are grateful to the courageous mothers and fathers of the LGBTI movement who fought hard for their right to go on the streets at a time when this was much more dangerous than today.
But in these hours our thoughts are also with those who still cannot demonstrate for their rights without fear –They can count on our solidarity!
We have to raise our voices against these violations of human rights in other parts of the world where LGBTI rights are under much more pressure. Solidarity to our friends in Cameroon, in Algiers, in Russia or in Istanbul. Today we are standing united and sending a signal of hope to the world. Our message is “love wins!”
This year's Pride Week theme “Marriage Equality” is very important. But it's also a particularly controversial social issue. Sometimes, progress takes a long time. Even in Germany – a country that is considered to be rather liberal and progressive – it took until summer 2017 to pass a law to grant full equality to same-sex couples.
And still there 14 EU states where same-sex marriages are still not on an equal legal footing with heterosexual marriages. Despite all the progress we have made during the last few years, we still have a lot of work ahead of us – not only in Serbia, but also in the whole EU. But it is worth keeping up the fight with full commitment.
As we were walking along Kralja Milana, we passed the Pride Info Center. A real Community Center has been created here. Right in the city center, with sufficient space for events, but also for meetings of all Belgrade LGBTI groups and - and this is particularly important to me - for dialogue with interested people.
This morning I already got my own impression of the center and learned that the financing will only be available until the end of the year. It is very important that this institution will continue its work permanently in Belgrade.
I therefore promise you that Germany continues to support the Center beyond the end of the year, and I encourage like-minded countries to do the same!
Dear friends, thank you so much for your engagement, your courage, your solidarity and your commitment. I’m proud of you!