Gay pride march banned in Serbia
Serbian authorities have banned a gay pride march and an anti-gay protest planned in the nation’s capital this weekend to avoid violence.
When two similar events occurred side by side in Serbia’s capital last year, about 100 people were injured, cars were burned and shops were looted in clashes between police and the anti-gay, far-right extremists.
So the gay pride march and the anti-gay protest planned in Belgrade on Sunday have been banned “to avoid bloodshed,” Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said Friday.
Anti-gay prejudice is widespread in Serbia, a predominantly conservative Balkan country. The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, has called gay pride marches a “parade of shame” that are “foreign to our history, tradition and culture.”
But Serbia has been urged by the West to protect the human rights of gays and other minorities, if it wants to one day join the European Union.
On Friday, Serbia’s President Boris Tadic backed the ban of Sunday’s events, saying it was imposed to “prevent violence and the possible loss of lives.”
Gay pride organizers said the ban represents a defeat for the state and shows that authorities have not cracked down on the far-right extremists since the clashes a year ago.