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After A Four Year Absence, Gay Pride Returns To Serbia

Pride

Gay Pride parades in Serbia have a violent past. The last one, which took place in 2010, was viciously disrupted by anti-gay protesters and resulted in over 100 injured people. Each subsequent year since, government officials have canceled the event, mostly citing security risks as the primary reason.

Pride returned to that country today, taking place in the capital city of Belgrade. The BBC reports that the march transpired almost completely without incident.

Participants marched through the centre of the city to the National Assembly, where ambassadors from numerous European countries addressed the crowd. "I feel phenomenal. Our efforts of the past three years have borne fruit," organiser Boban Stojanovic told Reuters news agency.

On Saturday evening, anti-gay rights campaigners demonstrated in the capital in anticipation of the Gay Pride march on Sunday. But the influence of the far right has declined in recent years, our correspondent says, and several government ministers have spoken in favour of the march.

According to the AP, several anti-gay protesters did try to unsuccessfully interrupt the peaceful march, though they were thwarted by the thousands of police on the ground who were quite prepared to protect the participants. 

Skirmishes were reported between small groups of extremists and police during and after the march, with soccer hooligans attacking liberal B-92 radio and TV station with flares and smoke bombs. Two policemen were injured, the station said. Also, the hooligans set one public bus on fire with flares, police said.

Water cannons, armored vehicles and riot police blocked traffic on the route of the march amid threats of attacks from extreme nationalists, as Serbia tried to show it respects human rights of all of its citizens as it seeks European Union membership.

A large-scale anti-gay march organized by the right wing group Dveri took place in Belgrade last night. In Serbia News reports on the event, which drew 5,000 people:

Before the beginning of the protest, [Dveri leader] Vladan Glisic told reporters that the campaign of “Dveri” was alerting the public “to make people understand that the story of the gay parade is not the story about human rights”. Glisic said that this is not “a homophobic protest, but protest against LGBT activists who are trying to impose a totalitarian ideology in our schools and homes and put us into a situation where family values are no longer the main values in Serbia”. At the start of the official part of the protest Serbian national anthem “Boze pravde” was played.

Watch an AFP News report on the Pride parade which includes a short interview with the mayor of Belgrade, Siniša Mali, who was in attendance himself, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "After A Four Year Absence, Gay Pride Returns To Serbia" »


Serbian Christian Orthodox Church Denounces Belgrade Pride - VIDEO

Serbia pride

Patriarch Irinej, the head of Serbia's Christian Orthodox church, yesterday denounced a Gay Pride march planned for this weekend, reports ABC News.

In a statement, Irinej said that the "shameless" event casts a moral shadow on Serbia.

OrthOfficials have suggested they could allow the event to go ahead despite fears of a repeat of the violence in 2010 when right-wing groups attacked a pride march, triggering clashes with police that left more than 100 people injured.

Following the attacks, authorities banned LGBT rights marches for the following three years, citing security reasons.

Holding the march is seen as a test of the country's pledge to respect human rights as it seeks membership in the European Union.

However, Irinej said that the pride organizers "and their mentors from Europe" haven't learned the lesson from the past marches.

Several far-right groups have announced anti-gay marches in Belgrade next Saturday.

On Tuesday, police announced they have filed charges against eight people who had made threats against LGBT people on social media.

Milorad Todorovic, the police officer in charge of cyber crime in Serbia, has vowed to “secure the safety of all citizens” and is hopeful that the Pride event will go ahead. "I hope the pride event will be held on Sunday."

Watch police combating extremist protesters at Serbia's 2010 Gay Pride, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Serbian Christian Orthodox Church Denounces Belgrade Pride - VIDEO" »


Hundreds of Serbian Gay Rights Activists Protest Government Shutdown of Pride March: VIDEO

Serbia

Hundreds of gay rights activists took to the streets last night with flags and banners, protesting a government shutdown of a planned LGBT Pride march for the third year in a row. The march had been planned for Saturday.

The government had previously announced it would allow the march to be held because it hopes to be accepted in the European Union and therefore must demonstrate that its LGBT citizens are respected and protected but the threat of violence from right-wing nationalists caused it to cave, Reuters reports:

"After a long discussion on whether the march would pass without severe consequences, the security assessments indicated severe threats to public safety," Dacic said after a three-hour meeting with security chiefs.

"This is not a capitulation to the hooligans," he said.

Reuters adds:

Riot police had fanned out through downtown Belgrade on Friday evening in anticipation of Saturday's march, and Serbian media reports said before the ban that more than 6,000 officers would be deployed to maintain order with a string of anti-gay demonstrations announced.

Speaking before the evening protest, Miletic said of the ban: "Everyone's a loser here, except the hooligans who for the third consecutive year proved they can tell that state what it can and cannot do."

But the threat of violence did not stop a group of activists who took to the streets anyway.

Some media compared their actions to Stonewall:

Soon after they learned that authorities banned the pride the activists were promptly organized and around 11 p.m. they gathered in hundreds in front of the Prime Minister office. The police was there immediately but they could not stop anymore the activists who started to march in the streets joyfully and shouting “We don’t give up!”.

A Euronews report on the shutdown and march:


Serbia Bans Gay Pride Parade, Citing Security Risk

Serbia's Gay Pride parade planned for this weekend in Belgrade has been canceled as have all activities related to it, B92 reports:

SerbiaPreviously, Dačić said that the parade would be banned if security services found the risk of violence associated with it was too high.

Goran Miletić, one of the organizers, told B92 that they had received an explanation from the MUP "which said absolutely nothing except to quote a legal article which stated that it had been appraised that security could be jeopardized during the gathering".

Serbian Patriarch Irinej had urged Prime Minister Ivica Dačić to ban the parade as well as an art exhibition by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, which depicted Jesus Christ dressed in women's clothing:

In a release submitted to Tanjug, the patriarch says the "tragicomic parade of shame" casts a heavy moral shadow on Belgrade, on Serbia's longstanding Christian culture and the dignity of the family, as the basic unit of humanity.

Commenting on the exhibit, which has stirred a lot of debate in the public, the patriarch said it was "deeply insulting."

"I had not expected that this year I would again be forced to turn to you on behalf of the Serbian Orthodox Church, its members, who are the dominant majority in Serbia, and on behalf of numerous members of other religions, with the plea and demand that, by your authority as prime minister, you prevent the scandalous exhibit of photographs by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin," Irinej wrote.


Serbian Authorities May Once Again Ban Gay Pride Over Security

Gay Pride in Serbia may be banned again this year as it was last year, Reuters reports:

BelgradePrime Minister Ivica Dacic, who also serves as interior minister, said on Monday the planned parade - whose purpose it to call for better and more gay rights in the predominantly Serbian Orthodox Christian society - was a major security risk. "So far we have received only partial security assessments and we may ban the parade if it proves a high-risk gathering," he told reporters.

The authorities outlawed last year's parade at the last moment for the same reason and dozens were injured the year before in violent clashes between police and ultranationalists unhappy about the event.

This year, rightists want to hold a counter-rally in the Serb capital on Saturday, the day of the planned gay parade, and have also threatened to disrupt an exhibition by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, which they say mocks Jesus Christ because it shows him in female clothes and high heels.

Serbia's 2010 Gay Pride was its first since 2001.  Hundreds of right-wing protesters attacked and injured more than 100 people, including many of the 5,000 thousand police officers that were there to protect marchers.


Belgrade Plans 8 Day Pride 'Occupation' Culminating in Parade

LGBT activists in Belgrade, Serbia are undaunted by violence in past years and are planning to expand their presence around an annually planned Pride parade in October, B92 reports:

Shame"This year, the concept has been changed, so the 'famous march' will be held on October 6, while we will make a festival that will last eight days. We will occupy the city for eight days, because this city belongs to us," said committee member Boban Stojanović.

He also specified that the festival would last from September 30 until October 7.

Stojanović told reporters that the parade would be held under the slogan "love, faith, hope".


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