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Serb Authorities Cancel Belgrade Pride Again

Jim Burroway

September 27th, 2013

For the fourth time in the past five years, Serbian authorities have caved to threats from far-right anti-gay organizations and banned the Belgrade Gay Pride parade that was sheduled for Saturday. Authorities also banned rival rallies that had been scheduled for the same day. According to Balkan Insight:

“No one should question the political orientation of the state and whether the constitutionally guaranteed rights are respected, the only limitation are security reasons,” Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic told Serbian public service broadcaster RTS on Friday evening.

…The ban comes after Serbian police union had asked the government to ensure protection for all participants at Saturday’s Pride Parade, criticising officials for their apparent ambiguity about whether it should take place or not.

I think that ambiguity has been sufficiently answered. As to questioning the “political orientation” of the state’s commitments to constitutionally guaranteed rights, it would probably be helpful if the Serbian government actually stopped providing ample reasons for raising those questions in the first place.

Belgrade’s B92 reports that 6,500 police officers had already been lined up to ensure security over the weekend, which it described as “the largest deployment of the police in the history of Belgrade.” But that wasn’t enough to satisfy the Bureau for the Coordination of Security Services, which announced the cancellation. The bureau’s announcement came as a surprise to Pride organizers:

Belgrade Pride Organizing Committee member Goran Miletić told B92 earlier that he hoped today’s meeting of the Bureau was of a technical nature and that its participants would discuss security issues, rather than consider banning the march.

He also stated that while the parade “is not listed as a condition for the EU” a decision not to allow it “would have severe consequences, because it would violate the fundamental right to freedom of assembly.”

Serb authorities banned Belgrade Pride marches in 2009, 2011 and 2012. About a thousand people turned out for Pride in 2010 under heavy police protection.  Organizers and participants praised Belgrade police for exemplary protection throughout the march. After the march ended and participants were safely escorted out of the area, riots broke out across Belgrade. Serbian President Boris Tadic at that time condemned the violence and vowed that “Serbia will guarantee human rights for all its citizens, regardless of the differences among them, and no attempts to revoke these freedoms with violence will be allowed.” That was the last time those freedoms were allowed to be expressed by LGBT Serbs.

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