Gay rights in Eastern Europe suffered a major setback this week when gay pride parades were banned in the Serbian capital city of Belgrade and the Russian province of Arkhangelsk.
In Belgrade, authorities banned the Pride parade as well as demonstrations by anti-gay protesters. The ban was pitched as a public safety move because last year’s parade ended in violence between marchers and far-right nationalists, leaving more than 150 people wounded.
Gay rights campaigners are considering taking the state to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the matter. Serbia is currently applying for membership in the European Union, which requires states to respect their citizens’ civil and political rights.
Instead of holding a parade, Serbian gay activists briefly blocked a highway on Oct 1 to unfurl a banner promoting gay rights.
Meanwhile, the subarctic Russian oblast (province) of Arkhangelsk, home to 1.3 million people, has banned all gay demonstrations. Lawmakers proposed the ban to prevent homosexuality from becoming popular and to stop the “corruption” of children.
The ECHR has already ruled against various Russian bans on gay pride celebrations, but authorities continue to defy these decisions.