Police in Belgrade will ensure public safety during next month’s Pride events, a senior politician has said.
“In this country, no one is allowed to threaten or bother anyone,” said Interior Minister Ivica Dacic.
Last month graffiti appeared across the city, the Serbian capital, threatening LGBT people and Pride participants with violence.
Belgrade’s mayor has ordered that the graffiti be painted over and said all citizens have the right to feel safe. He claimed that the homophobes are using the cover of football supporter clubs to organise.
The Pride parade is scheduled for September 20th.
“The (Pride) organisational committee informed the Interior Ministry of a study done by Zoran Dragisic of the Security University and his colleagues with an analysis of the situation and recommendations for organising the Pride Parade,” committee member Milica Dordevic told news website B92.
“Our police and its administration have experience and have already demonstrated to the citizens that they can protect them when necessary.”
Last year 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.
Before last year’s festival began one of the organisers told PinkNews.co.uk:
“Serbia has seen some changes in the last year, a referendum, the ‘passing’ of the so called constitution, the fall of government, the independence of Kosovo, yet another election.
“All the time the political climate moves increasingly to the far right neo fascist identity.
“It is from this position that we place the agenda for our festival as direct action and anti-fascism – because we always want to take the most concrete steps to build bridges to smash borders, to see our liberation linked with everyones.”
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 2008 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.