BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia’s police banned a pay pride march in Belgrade, citing security concerns but also complying with a request from Serbia’s Christian Orthodox church.
Police said they were banning the march planned for today because they feared a repeat of the violence in 2010, when right-wing groups attacked a gay pride event in Belgrade. That triggered day-long clashes with the police that left more than 100 people injured.
Last year’s gay pride march also was banned by authorities.
The current ban was announced after Patriarch Irinej, the head of Serbia’s Christian Orthodox church, urged the government to prevent today’s march. In a statement, he said such a “parade of shame” would cast a “moral shadow” on Serbia – a conservative Balkan country whose gay population has faced threats and harassment.
Allowing a gay pride march this year had been regarded by some as a test of Serbia’s pledge to respect human rights as it seeks European Union membership.
Secretary-General Thorbjoern Jagland of the Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights body, said he was “surprised and disappointed” that the pride event had been banned again.