Belgrade Pride in 2010 was disrupted by right-wing hooligans
The Serbian authorities have been slammed for banning a planned Belgrade Pride March for the third year in a row. The event was set to take place on Saturday 28 September.
As in previous years, the authorities justified the ban by claiming that threats from right wing groups made the march a danger to public safety.
The Bureau for the Coordination of Security Services made the announcement on Friday after a three hour meeting.
“After a long discussion on whether the march would pass without severe consequences, the security assessments indicated severe threats to public safety,” said Prime Minister Ivica Dacic.
He insisted, however, that “This is not a capitulation to the hooligans”.
Brian Sheehan, member of the Executive Board of ILGA-Europe and who was in Belgrade for the Pride event, said that the ban was “completely unacceptable”.
He explained that “The Serbian police force made it clear they are fully capable to provide adequate protection to the Pride March participants.
“As in previous years, threats by counter protesters have been used by the Serbian authorities to ban the peaceful Pride March. Such blatant manipulation is no longer acceptable; it is a State duty to provide protection to everyone who wants to exercise their constitutional right to peaceful demonstration,” said Sheehan.
The move may affect Serbia’s efforts to join the European Union, which could frown on the ban as an infringement on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
In 2001, Belgrade Pride ended in violence and the LGBTI community in Serbia only attempted to organise another pride event in 2009. That year’s event was cancelled as the authorities could also 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; injuring about 150 policemen and causing several thousands of Euros in damage.