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news 19 Sep 12

Belgrade Gay Parade to Go Despite Threats

Organisers of Serbia's annually embattled Gay Pride say that everything is set for the start of the event despite the usual threats of violence.

BIRN
Belgrade

Posters containing the threatening inscription "See you in October", and depicting thugs beating up a guy with a crossed-out LGBT flag, have appeared in Belgrade while graffiti reading "Stop Gay Pride" has also appeared in downtown Belgrade.

The ominous, anonymous warnings come less than two weeks ahead of this year’s parade, which will be held as part of a week's celebrations taking place under the slogan "Love, Faith, Hope" from September 30 to October 7.

Last year’s parade in Serbia was scrapped at the last moment on security grounds. The 2010 Pride took place but at a high cost.

Several thousand youths, including football fans and members of ultra-rightist organizations, attacked police officers who had been deployed to protect the marchers.

Organisers of this year's event, however, say that everything is ready for the march on October 6 - and if it is also banned, other events will go ahead instead.

"Belgrade Pride is ready and as far as we're concerned, we could start tomorrow," Goran Miletic, a member of the organising committee, said.

Miletic said that almost all the expected guests from abroad had confirmed their participation.

Meanwhile, Serbia's President, Tomislav Nikolic, will receive the Swedish Minister for the EU, the European Parliament Rapporteur for the Balkans, and a group of European parliamentarians just one day before the planned parade.

While European officials signal their public commitment to the event, Serbian officials are reluctant to send any similar signs of support.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Ivica Dacic maintained that the Pride parade was an issue of security rather than a question of human rights.  

Dacic also noted that some EU states also do not have gay parades, without the issue affecting their membership of the EU.

Miletic reacted to Dacic's statement by describing the planned march as a human right, as guaranteed by the constitution, "and one of those rights is freedom of assembly".

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