Hundreds of LGBTI people and their supporters marched through Belgrade on Sunday (Pic: Belgrade Pride / Facebook)

After being cancelled three years in a row, this weekend finally saw Belgrade’s LGBTI community being allowed to hold a Pride parade.

In previous years, the Serbian authorities had banned the event, claiming that threats from religious and right wing groups made the march a danger to public safety.

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.

On Sunday, up to 1,500 Pride participants, many waving rainbow flags, marched through the city centre to the national assembly. They were noticeably outnumbered by thousands of police officers.

Areas of the city were closed off and the authorities made use of armoured vehicles and helicopters to ensure the security of the event.

The BBC reports that while some right wing protesters were in evidence and were arrested, the event experienced no serious incidents.

The Pride participants were addressed by representatives from other European countries and Deputy Prime Minister Kori Udovicki, Belgrade mayor Sinisa Mali, and Serbia’s minister of culture Ivan Tasovac were also present.

Serbia, which is attempting to enter the European Union, has been under pressure from the EU to ensure that the event went ahead.

Štefan Füle, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, welcomed the Serbian government’s decision to allow the Pride parade to take place and applauded the professionalism of the security forces for providing protection to the participants.

He said that the parade “marked a substantial improvement towards the effective exercise of LGBTI rights, and more broadly, of human rights,” adding that “It is a milestone in the modern history of democratic Serbia.”

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