The Serbian Orthodox Church said today that they strongly oppose the gay Pride march planned for this Sunday in Belgrade.

In a statement, the Church said they believed such a parade “violated public morality” and was an attempt to undermine the “most sacred of Christian values”.

Some 500 participants are expected to attend the parade, which is being organised by several gay groups with help from non-governmental organisations.

Police minister Ivica Dacic said that up to 5,000 policemen will protect the parade and urged Serbians to refrain from violence.

The planned parade last year was cancelled at the final hour owing to threats coming from far-right and nationalist groups.

Some government officials have given the parade their reluctant approval, whereas opposition politicians and the general public have been far more blunt in their responses, billing it a “parade of shame”.

The Church’s statement went on to say that they opposed “public expression and advertising of anyone’s sexual orientation, or any other personal inclination, especially if it insults the right of citizens to privacy and family life.

“In that context, the Serbian Orthodox Church decisively opposes the organisation of the so called ‘parade of pride’ “.

They added that they did not know what the organisers were proud of and that the only “natural love” was between a man and a woman.

Their statement concluded that “Everything else is contrary to Christian values and morality”.