BELGRADE, SERBIA – RYCO Local Branch Office in Serbia took part in the EuroPride 2022 program from 14 until 18 September 2022 by organizing a series of activities throughout Pride Week. EuroPride organized in Belgrade presented a significant opportunity and momentum for young people in the Western Balkans to open a discussion on an important question: how to overcome obstacles for more active participation of youth in the area of human rights and consequently bring the topic of human rights closer to young people in the Western Balkans?
The first EuroPride organized in Southeast Europe opened a chance for RYCO to gather 22 young human rights activists and journalists from the Western Balkans in order to discuss possible ways of enhancing the scope of LGBTI+ activism in the region, as well as to build internal RYCO capacities and capacities of young people engaged with the community on the topic of youth work with LGBTI+ members. Partnering with EuroPride 2022 was the first step in exploring the important and untapped potential for wider regional and local engagement of youth in the area of human rights in general and specifically LGBTQI+ rights, noticed in previous research conducted among youth from the region. For that purpose, RYCO gathered inputs from present young activists and journalists from the Western Balkans in order to develop a roadmap for future engagement with LGBTI+ community. Moreover, the event was a chance for networking and coalition building among active young people gathered in Belgrade.
The aim of RYCO’s collaboration with Europride 2022 was to contribute to peacebuilding and reconciliation processes in the Western Balkans by mainstreaming human rights activism in the region and providing suggestions for more active participation and engagement of youth on this topic. Besides series of workshops and meetings with young human rights activists and journalists, RYCO organized a panel discussion “RYCO@EuroPride 2022: Engaged youth for a better region” on both challenges and opportunities for youth human rights activism in the Western Balkans and its significance for the peacebuilding and reconciliation processes.
Ms. Sofija Todorović, Program Director of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia, Mr. Ramadan Sokoli, Local Program Officer at the RYCO Local Branch Office in Pristina, an Mr. Adam Santovac, Journalist of N1 television, moderated by Mr. Đorđo Cvijović from RYCO Local Branch Office in Belgrade, discussed questions such as: What is the importance of the respect for and promotion of human rights for peacebuilding and reconciliation processes? How can young people be encouraged to be more active in the field of human rights? What is the role of regional mechanisms in promoting human rights and youth activism in this field? How can the narrative created by the media influence the willingness of young people to actively promote human rights and democracy?
Gathered participants from the Western Balkans also had the opportunity to participate in other events and activities organized within EuroPride Week, such as the International Human Rights Conference. On Saturday, participants and RYCO staff joint the Pride walk in Belgrade, as a sign of solidarity and support for LGBTI+ community in Serbia and the whole Western Balkans.