Serbia bans EuroPride march

Serbia bans EuroPride march
Serbia bans EuroPride march

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - EuroPride flags flutter during the opening ceremony of the EuroPride 2022 in Belgrade, on September 12, 2022. - Last month, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he had decided to "postpone or cancel" the Europride gathering, citing a litany of reasons, including recent tensions with the former breakaway province Kosovo and concerns over energy and food.EuroPride organisers slammed the move, saying the government had no authority to cancel the event. — AFP pic

BELGRADE, Sept 13 — Serbian authorities today banned the EuroPride rally, sparking an outcry from organisers just days before the pan-European gathering of the LGBTQ community was set to be held in Belgrade.

EuroPride is held in a different country every year, and this would have been Serbia’s first time to host the event.

“The Serbian police banned this year’s EuroPride march, by handing over the official notice to the organisers,” the Belgrade Pride said in a statement on social media.

“Belgrade Pride will use all available legal means to overturn this decision,” they added.

The interior ministry later confirmed that Saturday’s EuroPride march had been forbidden, as had a counter-protest on the same day.

“Senseless conflicts on the streets of Belgrade would... endanger the safety of the participants of the march, as well as other citizens,” said Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin.

Tensions have been mounting in Belgrade since Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called for the cancellation of the event late last month, prompting protests from the country’s LGBTQ community who have vowed to carry on with the demonstration that is scheduled for Saturday.

The Serbian leader cited a number of reasons for wanting to call off the event, including recent tensions with the former breakaway province of Kosovo and concerns over energy and food.

Goran Miletic, one of the event’s organisers, said the demonstration would go ahead despite the ban.

“We will certainly get together and walk as planned,” Miletic told AFP following Tuesday’s announcement.

Gay marriage is not legally recognised in Serbia, where homophobia remains deep-seated despite incremental strides over the years in reducing discrimination.

Belgrade Pride marches in 2001 and again in 2010 were marred by violence and rioting after far-right groups targeted the event.

Since 2014, the parade has been organised regularly but protected with a large law enforcement presence.

The formal ban comes just days after thousands took part in an anti-Pride demonstration in Belgrade, with biker gangs, Orthodox priests and far-right nationalists demanding the EuroPride rally be forbidden. — AFP

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