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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" »


EU Leans On Serbia for Gay Rights In Advance of Pride March: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.26.25 PM

Following the brutal attack on a German gay rights activist in Belgrade, Europeans have turned their attention to gay rights in Serbia, expressing concerns about the upcoming Belgrade Pride March. Serbians have struggled putting the event together each year since the first ever parade in 2000 due to aggressive anti-gay protesters. In recent years, the parade has been cancelled or banned mutiple times due to concerns of anti-gay violence. In fact, the parade has been cancelled every year since 2010.

There is new hope for Serbians looking for a Pride March. The European Union is presently considering incorporating Serbia, but officials have said that human rights concerns is the primary reason Serbia could be denied. This may create new incentive for the Serbian government to work harder at civil rights problems.

Buzzfeed has a quote from Terry Reintke, a member of the European Parliament from Germany, who was in attendance at the same conference as the man who was beaten. Said Reintke:

This incident is again a strong sign that there is a major problem inside of Serbia with violence, hate crimes, and should be taken as a starting point … to address this much more [forcefully] from the side of the Serbian government.

Bjorn Van Roozendaal, program director for International Lesbian and Gay Association's European division expressed a similar sentiment, saying:

The way that we look at it … based on this incident, it is the time for the Serbian government to indicate that they stand up to violence and protect minorities

Time well tell, but if this year's Pride March is held, it could be a positive turning point. Not just for LGBT Serbians, but also for the nation of Serbia in toto.

ICYMI: footage of the German activist's attack AFTER THE JUMP. Warning: violence.

Continue reading "EU Leans On Serbia for Gay Rights In Advance of Pride March: VIDEO" »


Three Arrested in Attack That Left German Gay Rights Activist in Critical Condition: VIDEO

Serbia

A 27-year-old German gay rights activist who was attending a LGBT conference in Belgrade, Serbia is in critical condition after sustaining "life threatening" injuries from an attack Saturday.

Three men have been arrested in connection with the attack - which was captured on CCTV footage, PinkNews reports:

Dusan Jovanovic, deputy director of the hospital where the man is being treated, said the man [whose name has not yet been released] has undergone surgery but is still in a “serious condition”.

He suffered internal bleeding and head injuries in the attack.

It is thought that he was set upon by a gang of men who screamed about “foreigners” in Belgrade, following the gay rights conference.

Footage of the brutal attack AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: violence)

It's unknown how much (if any) the man's sexual orientation played a part in the attack. Anti-LGBT sentiment is rampant in Serbia though, with the government frequently shutting down planned gay pride marches

Continue reading "Three Arrested in Attack That Left German Gay Rights Activist in Critical Condition: VIDEO" »


Eastern Orthodox Church Leaders Claim Conchita Wurst Caused Floods In Balkan Peninsula

Balkan Floods

Conchita wurstOf the many superpowers that drag queens posess - razor wit, flawless reading abilities, livers of granite - controlling the weather is not one of them. Eastern European religious leaders, however, are unaware of this fact and are blaming Conchita Wurst winning Eurovision 2014 for the floods in the Balkan Penninsula. Said Patriarch Amfilohije of Montenegro,

God sent the rains as a reminder that people should not join the wild side[...]God is thus washing Serbia of its sins.

So not only does the Almighty watch Eurovision, but the victory of an Austrian drag queen sends Him into such a tantrum that he destroys the lives of some 150,000 people in a completely unrelated country to express His dissatisfaction. That makes sense.


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:


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