STA, 22 June 2019 - The annual pride parade will take to the streets of Ljubljana on Saturday, a culmination of a two-week festival campaigning against the culture of hate that has become pervasive in society. For the first time ever, a pride parade will also be hosted by Maribor in a week's time.
Maribor is not the only city in the region to host its first pride parade. The Croatian port city of Rijeka, Serbia's second largest city Novi Sad and Bosnian capital Sarajevo will also host their first parades this year, according to Pride Parade Association head and festival director Simona Muršec.
Talking to the press at the beginning of the festival, she said that the first pride parades in these cities will be a litmus test showing whether the society is ready to accept LGBTQ+ people as their neighbours.
This year's parade slogan is Unavoidably Intertwined, with the organisers trying to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of hatred, and about negative and stereotypical portrayal of marginalised groups.
"Our lives are strongly influenced by the society and its dynamics; what is going on in the media and in politics. We've come a long way in 19 years but homophobic and xenophobic abuse, hate speech and bullying at schools remain an everyday occurrence, and this is a part of our reality as well," Muršec illustrated.
Author Nina Perger meanwhile said that hate speech, threats and insults were becoming more frequent and more intense, and were also becoming a part of everyday life.
"We are trying to encourage action and fight, reaction and connection instead of passiveness and silence," said Perger, adding that key players and institutions moved too slow to protect the marginalised groups and human dignity.
Leading up to the parade, the Pride Parade Festival featured some 30 events, including performances, debates and exhibitions.
In the week before the festival the NGO Legebitra issued a handbook, entitled Mavrica (Rainbow), for teachers and others working in education in addressing issues related to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual expression.
Legebitra head Lana Gobec said at the handbook presentation on Wednesday that LGBT persons remain targets of ridicule, remarks and verbal, psychological and physical violence in society, adding that places for the young must be safe spaces for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.
A survey by Legebitra showed some 30% of LGBT respondents said that they had been discriminated and harassed due to their sexual orientation while in school.
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