Serbian authorities have been slammed after they blocked yesterday’s planned Belgrade Pride parade from going ahead.
The government also banned planned protests against Pride by anti-gay right-wing groups.
The action was taken by the interior ministry which cited the possible “obstruction of public transport, endangering health, public moral or safety of individuals and properties.”
Earlier, Serbia’s police chief had warned of “bloodshed” and buildings being set alight following reports that right-wing extremists were planning to have “Belgrade in flames”.
He also claimed that the authorities did not have the resources to police the Pride event to prevent possible violence.
Instead of the parade, the organisers of Belgrade Pride held a press conference on Sunday which they dubbed a “Parade within four walls”. They said that the state had capitulated to “bullies” by banning Pride.
Amnesty International called the ban a “dark day for human rights”.
“The Serbian authorities, as they did in 2009, have bowed to pressure from right-wing groups who have failed to understand or respect the rights to freedom of expression set out in the Serbian constitution and law,” said Sian Jones, Balkans Researcher at Amnesty International.
“Again the government has put pressure on the organisers to cancel the Pride march, instead of supporting them by guaranteeing their rights. Instead of rainbow flags in Serbia, it is a dark day for human rights.”
In 2001 Belgrade Pride ended in violence and, as a result, the LGBTI community in Serbia only attempted to organise another pride event in 2009. That year’s event was cancelled as the authorities could not commit to protecting the participants.
In 2010, a Pride event took place with heavy police protection. However, around 6000 members of right wing organisations clashed with the police, injured about 150 policemen and caused several thousands of Euros in damage.