BY DANIELA COSTA – The annual Belgrade Pride parade has been cancelled for the second time in two years after anti-gay groups in Serbia’s capital threatened a riot.
According to an MP from Serbia’s governing coalition, the parade will be banned again this year “for security reasons.” The news comes just days before the festival was due to start.
On Sept 17, Belgrade Pride organizing committee member Goran Miletic told a group of NGOs that organizers were prepared for the festival’s Sept 30 start date. The Pride march was set to take place on Oct 6.
"Belgrade Pride is ready, and as far as we're concerned, we could start tomorrow," Miletic said.That won’t be the case.
This week, United Serbia MP Dragan Markovic announced that the parade would be cancelled. The non-parade festival events will go ahead as planned.
Last year, Serbia’s interior minister cancelled the Belgrade Pride parade three days before it was to take place. Rightwing extremist groups had threatened to riot throughout the city if the parade went ahead.
The Belgrade Pride parade has been banned most years since it first took place in 2001. In 2010, the parade did go ahead, but anti-gay rioters caused more than €1 million ($1.3 million Canadian) in property damage.
Serbia, a candidate to join the European Union, has been pressed by the European Parliament to do more to protect the rights of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans citizens.
Miletic spoke to Xtra in June about the struggles queer groups face trying to organize in the Balkans.
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