Belgrade to host first Gay Pride parade since 2010

Belgrade to host first Gay Pride parade since 2010

BELGRADE - Agence France-Presse
Belgrade to host first Gay Pride parade since 2010

A man walks past a anti-gay graffiti, reading 'Stop the parade of shame,' in Belgrade on Sept. 26. AFP Photo

Belgrade will host a Gay Pride parade on Sept. 28 for the first time in four years after being banned for security reasons following violent protests by ultra-nationalists at the event.

"Despite disagreements, the bureau coordinating security services did not ban the pride parade on Sunday," Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sept. 26.

At the same time Stefanovic urged all citizens to refrain from violence as authorities could still stop the parade if security is jeopardised.

Ultra-nationalists and far-right groups have threatened to protest against the gay pride over the weekend, but Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic warned that "whoever tries to provoke incidents will be very, very severely punished."

However, Vucic added, unlike some ministers from his cabinet, he himself would not join the parade. "My obligation is to guarantee security and safety to everybody. But my choice is not to attend the parade, no way," Vucic told reporters on Sept. 25.

The head of the influential Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, spoke up against the gay pride, saying it was "immoral" and "violently imposed by a gay lobby and their mentors from (western) Europe."       

Throughout Belgrade city centre graffiti appeared overnight Sept. 26 reading: "Stop the parade of shame", and "Stop the parade of fags."       

Two weeks ago a German man who participated at a conference on gay rights was severely beaten in downtown Belgrade and hospitalised for several days with serious head injuries.

At Serbia's first ever gay pride march in 2010 more than 150 people were wounded in clashes between security forces and ultra-nationalists.

After that Serbian authorities banned gay pride marches citing security reasons until this year. Serbia launched accession talks with the European Union earlier this year and has been under pressure to respect minority groups' rights, including the rights of the LGBT community.