Serbian Authorities Vow To Prosecute 'Hooligans' After LGBT Walk, Counterprotests

BELGRADE -- The prosecutor’s office in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, said it would do everything necessary to identify and prosecute those who caused violence during a EuroPride walk that was officially banned by authorities.

The office on September 18 said it would work to “determine all relevant circumstances of attacks on members of the Interior Ministry…the attacks and threats made to journalists, as well as to certain participants in the 'EuroPride' event."

The statement said the Senior Public Prosecutor's Office would work with the Interior Ministry to identify and prosecute those responsible for the violence, some being labeled as "hooligans."


The Interior Ministry on September 13 officially announced a ban on the EuroPride Week's culminating march through downtown Belgrade and said it had similarly denied permission for a counterdemonstration the same day.

It concluded that there was a “danger of violence, destruction of property, and other forms of disruption of public order on a larger scale."

LGBT activists, however, vowed to carry on in some manner and about 1,000 supporters conducted a scaled-down walk in central Belgrade, with some 6,000 security personnel keeping watch. At the same time, far-right opponents clashed with police on the city’s streets.

Organizers of the EuroPride events also faced strong opposition from the conservative Serbian Orthodox Church.

Scattered incidents were reported throughout the day. Officials said anti-gay activists threw bottles at police and attempted to break through cordons set up by authorities.

Serbian officials said 87 people were detained in the capital, with Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin saying criminal charges were brought against 11 of them.

Prior to the march, LGBT organizers said they had been given assurances by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic -- who is openly lesbian but who has been criticized by the Serbian gay community for lack of support -- that they could proceed and that the streets would be safe.

Following the event, Brnabic told reporters that “the police did a great job” and said she was proud that “we managed to avoid more serious incidents.”

She added that the matter was now closed and that “it's time to focus on things that are more difficult and important."

After the event, Vulin insisted that the ban on a march had, in fact, been enforced and that the people walking on the streets were only being "escorted to a concert."

Vulin said 13 police officers were injured and that five police vehicles were damaged during the day. He visited the injured officers and said Belgrade police had shown they were not intimidated by "pressure or hooligans."

EuroPride Week celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex pride at the pan-European level and has been hosted by a different European city nearly every year since 1992.

With reporting by AFP