Serbia Bans EuroPride March Citing Risks Of Violence

Serbian authorities have banned the EuroPride march just days before the pan-European gathering was scheduled to take place in Belgrade, sparking an outcry from organizers of the LGBT event.

Belgrade Pride said on Twitter on September 13 that Serbian police banned this year's EuroPride march by handing over the official notice to the organizers.

The organization vowed to " use all available legal means to overturn this decision."

The Interior Ministry later confirmed to RFE/RL that the EuroPride march, which was scheduled to take place on September 17 in Belgrade for the first time, had been banned. A counterprotest scheduled for the same day was also banned.

The ministry said that there was a “high risk that the safety of the participants of both walks on the announced routes will be endangered, as well as the safety of other citizens.”

It added that after a security assessment it was determined that there was a “danger of violence, destruction of property, and other forms of disruption of public order on a larger scale.”

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin added that in the “current geopolitical situation and tensions in the region, senseless clashes on the streets of Belgrade would make the position of our country more difficult (and) endanger the safety of the participants of the walk, as well as other citizens.”

The ban comes just days after an anti-Pride demonstration in Belgrade by right-wing groups with the support of the Serbian Orthodox Church and its patriarch demanded that the EuroPride rally be prohibited.


The march attracted thousands of people, threatening counterdemonstrations and other steps if EuroPride went ahead.

Tensions have been mounting in Belgrade since Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called for the cancellation of EuroPride last month, prompting protests from the country's LGBT community.

The Serbian leader cited a number of reasons for wanting to call off the event, including recent tensions with Kosovo and concerns over energy and food.

But organizers of the pan-European LGBT event went ahead with the launch of EuroPride week on September 12 in a defiant opening that passed without incident.

Following the announcement of the ban, dozens of protesters booed Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic -- who is openly gay -- at a human rights conference in Belgrade.

"We want Pride" and “Let’s walk on Saturday,” they chanted. She responded by saying no one can forbid them. "It is your basic human right," said Brnabic.

She said state authorities had given in to thugs from extreme right-wing organizations in issuing the ban.

EuroPride celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex pride at the pan-European level and has been hosted by a different European city each year since 1992. It has drawn crowds of over 1 million people multiple times.

The event includes music and theater, rights conferences, club nights, and culminates in a carnival-style parade.

With reporting by AFP