The Serbian interior ministry has banned a gay pride parade from taking place in the country’s capital Belgrade for the second year running after ultra-nationalists threatened the march and the Serbian Orthodox Church condemned it.
“Based on all security estimates and recommendations, the interior ministry made the decision that it is necessary to ban all gatherings announced for October 6, including the pride march, for the sake of citizens’ safety,” Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said in a statement received by AFP.
Mr Dacic, who is also the police chief, added: “We believe that at this moment Serbia does not need clashes and victims, and that’s why we banned the gatherings”.
Police officials also said they feared a repeat of the violence in 2010, when right-wing groups attacked a similar event in Belgrade, triggering day-long clashes with police that left more than 100 people injured.
According to the Huffington Post, the current ban was announced after Patriarch Irinej, the head of Serbia’s Christian Orthodox Church, urged the government to prevent Saturday’s march.
He said in a statement that such a “parade of shame” would cast a “moral shadow” on Serbia.
Allowing this year’s march had been regarded by some as a key test of Serbia’s pledge to respect human rights as it seeks EU membership.
Meanwhile, some 2,000 riot police were deployed on Wednesday outside of an art exhibition in Belgrade organised by LGBT activists after extremists issued threats, saying photographs by a Swedish author desecrated the image of Jesus Christ.