Monday, 8 September 2014

Serbia: Belgrade Gay Pride Plans Parade and Party

Belgrade Pride, which was banned last year, could go ahead this month and conclude with a party, if police give permission for the parade amid continued fears of attack by right-wingers.

8/9/2014- Organisers of the Pride parade said it will be held on September 28, if permitted by the authorities, after being postponed earlier this year due to the heavy floods that hit the country in May and banned altogether in previous years. The marchers are scheduled to walk from the government building in Nemanjina Street to parliament at Trg Nikole Pasica. The march will end with a party, just across the street from the parliament, in a square in front of Belgrade City Assembly. The original plan was that the marchers would walk from Slavija Square to Belgrade’s main square, Trg Republike, but the route was shortened due to security concerns.

One of the organisers, Goran Miletic, said that the route could again be amended after final talks with police – and admitted that there was still the possibility that it would not take place at all. “We are making all the preparations as if it is going to be held, but whether we will actually walk the streets of Belgrade has always depended on a decision of one man at the top of the pyramid of power - regardless of a party from which he comes,” Miletic told daily newspaper Politika. However, he added that so far the organisers enjoyed support from and cooperation with the police and other institutions. “We have excellent cooperation with the police, we have support from the minister for European integration, Jadraka Joksimovic, and a large number of Western countries’ ambassadors,” said Miletic. He added that so far no one has threatened the organisers or the potential participants.

In 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, the authorities banned the parade altogether just days before it was scheduled to take place, because police declared they could not safeguard marchers from right-wing violence. Miletic told Politika that he expects that the organisers will once again be informed whether the parade will take place “at the last minute”, although they announced the event to the police in early June. The country's first Pride march was brought to a halt in Belgrade in June 2001 when protesters clashed with police. The Pride march went ahead only in 2010, but several thousand young people, including football fans and members of right-wing organisations, caused mayhem, throwing stones and missiles, injuring police officers and setting buildings and vehicles on fire.
© Balkan Insight


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