Aleksandar Vasovic (Reuters)
Belgrade, Serbia ●
Wed 31 Aug 2022
Serbian LGBT rights activists and pro-Western opponents of conservative President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday they would defy a ban on a gay pride march in Belgrade next month, despite resistance from extreme groups right and the church.
Belgrade is due to host the EuroPride March on September 17, an event held in a different European city each year.
But Vucic said the event would be banned, citing threats of violence from right-wing and ultranationalist groups.
“The government’s decision on the ban will be respected and no one should play with the decisions of the state,” he told reporters in Belgrade.
On Sunday, thousands of members of right-wing and pro-Russian organizations and the conservative Serbian Orthodox Church gathered in Belgrade, demanding a ban on the march.
But organizers, activists and part of the parliamentary opposition said they would protest anyway.
“We will definitely go out for a walk no matter what,” EuroPride board member Filip Vulovic told Reuters.
Goran Miletic, director of the civil rights watchdog, said organizers of the march had yet to receive the formal police ban notice, which must be issued at least 96 hours to advance.
He also said that four similar bans, in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, had been ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court.
“It is also the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, which says that if there is a threat to security, such a threat must be eliminated by adequate police work,” he said. he told Reuters.
Serbia wants to join the European Union but has been told it must first improve the rule of law, its human rights record, eradicate organized crime and corruption and strengthen ties with the former southern province of Kosovo, now independent.