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Serbia's Minister for Human Rights has announced that he will attend the pride parade in Belgrade on October 10.
"I invite all of you to join us," Minister Svetozar Ciplic said at a press conference in Belgrade on Thursday. Past pride parade events have been canceled or met with violence from protesters and this year's rally is seen as a major test for the country.
According to the minister, there has been no official confirmation that other government representatives plan to march together with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and its supporters.
He said he expects two ministers and several MPs to show up, based on private information he has received.
Stressing that the country's Constitution guarantees rights and freedoms for all people, Ciplic said it was up to the state authorities to ensure these rights are observed and protected.
The head of the EU Delegation in Serbia, Vincent Degert, the chief of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Dimitros Kypreos, and the head of the Council of Europe delegation, Konstantin Jerakostopulos, have also supported the event.
The parade is scheduled to start at Manjez park in the city centre, one of the main meeting spots for the country's LGBT population in the 1970s. The rally is then set to walk past the main state institutions and finish with a party at the Student Cultural Centre, SKC.
The aim of the gathering, which is organised by the LGBT community in Serbia, is to urge the government to strengthen the fight against violence and descrimination.
The event has raised vehement opposition from right wing organisations. One group, called Dveri, has announced a counter rally "Family protest" for October 9.
They have said it is shameful that the ruling regime is marking the tenth anniversary of since Milosevic's overthrow with the gay pride parade.
"They [the government] have destroyed everything, and now they want our family. This is the defense of the family and the future of the Serbian people," Srdjan Nogo from Dveri said.
In the 20 years since the LGBT community has existed officially in Serbia, there have been two attempts to hold a pride rally.
The first, in June 2001, was brought to a halt after clashes with protestors left several civilians and policemen injured.
Almost eight years later, the country's parliament adopted an Anti-Discrimination Law prohibiting, among other things, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status.
The second planned pride rally in Belgrade, which was scheduled to take place in September last year, was cancelled after police declared the risk to the marchers’ personal security was too great following threats from right-wing groups to disrupt the event.
Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic has said that this year's pride parade is a test for Serbia.
"This is one way to test whether we in Serbia are ready and able to organise something that most of the citizens dislike," Dacic said at a conference on Thursday.
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