Belgrade holds Pride march as far-right groups clash with police | LGBTQ News

LGBTQ activists march on a short route amid intimidation as police clash with radical protesters in the Serbian capital.

Police in Belgrade have arrested dozens of people after clashing with far-right and extremist protesters, who once vowed to stop a Pride march in the Serbian capital.

LGBTQ activists gathered for an International Pride march on Saturday a few kilometers away despite threats from anti-gay groups and a ban by President Aleksandar Vucic’s government late in the day. last month.

Extremist protesters threw stun grenades, rocks and flares at a police post, who repelled the attack with riot batons and shields.

Hundreds of Pride marchers gathered in the pouring rain, dancing and singing as their march was organized on a short route.

“The most important thing is that we are gathering on the street. This is a fight for human rights. Marko Mihajlovic, one of the organizers of the Pride event, said this is a fight for our constitutional rights and this is a fight for a democratic Serbian rule of law.

“We need justice and freedom,” said Goran Miletic, another organizer.

Earlier this week, Serbian police banned the parade, citing the risk of clashes with far-right activists. But organizers on Saturday said they had received assurances from Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, a lesbian, that the event could go ahead.

Brnabic said at a news conference later on Saturday that 64 people had been arrested and 10 policemen were slightly injured, N1 regional media reported.

“Today we have placed 5,200 police officers on the streets of Belgrade; We had two incidents… and in both incidents police members responded promptly, resolved the issue and made sure it didn’t spread,” said Brnabic.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin warned that his agency “will not tolerate any acts of violence on the streets of Belgrade and will take the law seriously”.

Several incidents were reported earlier in the day with anti-gay activists throwing bottles at police and trying to break through police encirclement.

Serbian MP Bosko Obradovic, leader of the far-right party Dveri, said on Twitter the parade had an “anti-Christian agenda” as “a precondition for the complete NATO occupation of Serbia”.

The European Pride organizers association chose the Serbian capital three years ago to host the annual event, hoping it will represent a breakthrough for a traditionally conservative Slavic nation. and was strongly influenced by the Orthodox Church.

The European Union and other Western officials, as well as human rights groups, have urged populist Serbian President Vucic to authorize the Pride march. However, Vucic said police were unable to deal with possible riots by right-wing groups amid the energy crisis.

Those far-right groups, some considered close to Vucic’s nationalist government, were also banned from gathering on Saturday, but they said they would ignore the ruling.

Several legal appeals by the organizers of the march against the ban were rejected by the Serbian authorities.

More than 20 embassies – including the US, France and the UK – issued a joint statement urged the authorities to lift the ban.

Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, where homophobia remains deeply entrenched despite some progress over the years in reducing segregation. behave.

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