Organizers say Pride march will take place in Serbia despite ban

Belgrade, Serbia — Organizers of European LGBTQ events in Belgrade this week said on Friday they would hold a planned Pride march on the streets of the Serbian capital despite the police ban and rhetoric threats from anti-gay groups.

Serbian police banned Saturday’s march, citing the risk of clashes with far-right activists, who said they would gather to protest the march. Several legal protests against the ban were rejected by the Serbian authorities.

Goran Miletic, one of the organizers of the biggest annual Pride event in Europe, said: “We were put in a situation where we had no other choice. “’Despite the ban, we will rally. This is a completely different Pride than the prizes we have ever had. “

Earlier on Friday, organizers submitted another formal request to the Serbian Interior Ministry with a proposed shorter route for the hike. This was supported by 27,000 signatures. However, the Serbian interior minister said the ban was still in effect.

“The Interior Ministry has not yielded to pressure from Western powers,” said Minister Aleksandar Vulin.

Members of the European Association of Pride Organizers chose the Serbian capital three years ago to host the annual event, hoping it will represent a major breakthrough for a Slavic nation. conservative tradition and strongly influenced by the Orthodox Church.

EU and other Western officials, as well as national and international human rights groups, have urged populist Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to authorize the Pride march. However, police said police were unable to deal with possible riots by right-wing groups amid the energy crisis and other events that have occurred in the Balkan country.

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

“I will not address that topic (of Pride Week), which is imposed on the people of Serbia with the ferocity of evil,” Vucic said on Friday. “All those who are in favor, but also those who are extremely against the move, are all engaged in a mixed fight against their country.”

Amnesty International said the ban on the Euro Pride march “for purported security reasons is shameful”.

“Instead of yielding to hate speech and threats against LGBTI people, authorities must take all necessary measures to provide adequate protection to participants and allow them to enjoy their rights without fear of harassment, intimidation or violence,” said Eve Geddie, Amnesty International Director at the Office of European Organizations

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