The directors of a conference hall who cancelled a press conference by a gay organisation for “security reasons” should resign.

Marko Karadžić, minister for human rights in the Serbian government, said the behaviour of the Sava Centre was unacceptable.

The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) news conference was due to take place at the New Belgrade premises.

The cancellation caused a protest of Alliance activists.

“What surprised me is that is that such discriminatory opinions, which made the news conference impossible, were explained in that way—that means neither the place, nor the hall were a problem, but only the organiser and the theme which was to be discussed at the press conference,” said Mr Karadžić.

“Additionally, it is also worrying that individuals jointly put their personal opinions in first place, above the Constitution, laws and politics which the Republic of Serbia government enacted, and that is that every individual has equal rights before the law, that regardless of differences they have the right to live in harmony with that.

“The most moral thing, in this situation, would be to tender their resignations. If not, they will have to be replaced.”

Minister of Culture Nebojša Bradić said yesterday that the reaction of the Sava Center directors was “worrying.”

Serbia is not a member of the EU but the government has declared European integration to be one of the strategic priorities for the Republic and it has been a potential candidate country for the EU accession since 2003.

A recent progress report from the European Commission on candidate countries said that in Serbia violent attacks, hate speech and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is prevalent.

The government failed to provide adequate protection against discriminatory treatment and comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation has not been adopted yet and the protection against discrimination in the labour market is also very weak.

In September a group of 25 people were the victims of an “organised attack by fascists” after attending the 5th Queerbeograd festival in Belgrade.

“Police that were patrolling in a side street were there quickly but it didn’t prevent some of the QB participants getting seriously hurt,” the festival organisers said after the attack.

“One fascist was arrested. The attackers consisted of members of Obraz, a fascist group that also organised the attack on the Pride in 2001.”

The locations of Queerbeograd events had not been publicised in advance for security reasons.