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news 27 Sep 13

Belgrade Bans Gay Parade Amid Security Concerns

For the third year in a row, the state has caved in to the extremists' demands and banned Belgrade's Pride Parade citing security reasons.

Bojana Barlovac

Serbia’s national security council has decided to ban all gatherings scheduled for the weekend including the annual gay pride parade which was due to take place on Saturday, over concerns of violent clashes.

Serbia Gays Throw Mini Pride Parade

Chanting "This is Serbia" and "We have pride" and waving rainbow flags, around 200 gay activists held a mini pride on Friday night.

The group gathered in front of the Serbian government building at 11pm local time and walked to the parliament along with many police officers.

"Tonight we exercised our right to gather peacefully, and I don't believe we bothered anyone in Serbia," Goran Miletic, one of the organisers of the gay pride, said.

"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.
Several Serbian far-right organisations had scheduled rival rallies on the day of the parade, raising fears that there would be street disturbances.
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.

Only two state officials have said that they would attend the rally if it goes ahead - Branko Ruzic, minister without portfolio in charge of European integration, and Tanja Miscevic, the head of Serbia's negotiation team for the EU.

"This is pride" in front of the parliamentary building, Photo by Beta
This is not the first time the parade was cancelled. 
In 2009, 2011 and 2012, the authorities banned the parade altogether after police declared they could not safeguard marchers from right-wing violence.
The country's first Pride march was brought to a halt in Belgrade in June 2001 when protesters clashed with police.
The Pride march went ahead in 2010, but several thousand youngsters, including football fans and members of right-wing organisations, caused mayhem, throwing stones and missiles, injuring police officers and setting buildings and vehicles on fire.
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