Gay Pride March is Canceled and Banned in Belgrade Serbia

Serbia’s Interior Minister made good on his threat and has cancelled this weekend’s gay pride due to “security reasons:” “Our intelligence indicated hooligans are poised to attack gay activists, police, media, offices of political parties, foreign businesses, embassies and burn cars,” said a government official. Activists, meanwhile, say the government is “capitulating” to homophobes.

Authorities banned a gay rights parade in Belgrade on Sunday as well as all other public gatherings this weekend fearing a repeat of the violence at last year’s event.

LAST YEAR, Serbian riot police fought running battles in Belgrade  with mobs of ultra-nationalist youths who tried to disrupt a gay pride gathering that was addressed by the country’s top EU official.

Over a hundred people were hurt including around 90 police officers, two seriously.

It’s sad.  I think many of us who have the luxury of celebrating in cities like New York City, Chicago, Toronto, West Hollywood,  Amsterdam and even Sao Paulo, forget how good we have it.  Other countries, it can be very scary…

Traditionally conservative societies across the Balkans have been slow to accept open homosexuality and many gay rights events in the region have ended in violence.

Goran Miletic, a human rights activist and an organizer of the pride parade, condemned the decision as a capitulation to hooligans, but said the rally would not go ahead.

“We are shocked,” he said. “With this the state capitulated … a democratic state should be able to guarantee two hours of security to its citizens.”

We personally attended the Gay Pride in Budapest this year.  Government officials were worried there as well.  But they deployed 1500  officers in riot gear, to protect the 2500 gay pride marchers for 4 hours. And while there were hostile protesters in the crowd, no one was seriously injured.  I think this shows that a city was able to eat the cost, to make the event happen, for the good of LGBT people, and it sent a message to the city, saying violence would not be tolerated in Budapest.