By Bojana Barlovac
For the second year in a row, the Serbian government has caved in to the extremists’ demands and banned Belgrade’s Pride Parade citing security reasons.
Serbia’s Interior Ministry has decided to ban all gatherings scheduled for Saturday, October 6, including the annual gay pride parade over concerns of violent clashes.
“Conflicts and victims are the last thing Serbia needs at the moment. All conditions to ban public meetings scheduled for October 6 are in place, including the rally which is part of the so-called Pride Parade, as well as all rallies against the parade,” said Ivica Dacic, the Serbian Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
Goran Miletic, programme director of the Civil Rights Defenders and one of the organizers of the parade said they had received an explanation from the police citing safety concerns for the ban.
“If last year [the decision to ban the pride] represented the capitulation of the state, today it shows an open coalition [of the state] with hooligans because the authorities have fully adopted the arguments of the extremist organizations, as well as their demands,” Miletic said.
Last year’s parade was cancelled by the authorities following the threats by the far right that they will cause mayhem on the streets.
The 2010 Pride went ahead, but several thousand youngsters, including football fans and members of ultra-rightist organizations, threw stones and explosives at the police, injuring police officers and setting buildings and vehicles on fire.
The fate of 2012 march was uncertain till today given the various threats and lack of support from authorities.
Earlier today, Patriarch Irinej, the Head of Serbian Orthodox Christian Church, urged the authorities to ban the parade, and a controversial exhibition, deemed to be insulting to Christians as it depicts Jesus as a transvestite.
“The parade casts a heavy moral shadow on our city, our Christian tradition that lasts for centuries, the dignity of our family as a building block of the mankind“, the patriarch noted.
The exhibition, dubbed “Ecce Homo”, by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson Vallin, and the gay parade were planned as part of the week-long Belgrade Pride which kicked off on Sunday night.
Several political parties including United Serbia, New Serbia and far right Dveri have also called the authorities to ban the march.
In September, posters showing thugs beating a guy underneath a crossed-out LGBT flag and the threatening tag line “See you in October”, appeared throughout Belgrade, as well as graffiti reading “Stop Gay Pride”.
Previously, Dacic said that the parade would be banned if security services found the risk of violence associated with it was too high.