Neo-Nazis Threaten Violence at Serbia Pride Parade
LGBT activists are planning to hold a Pride Parade in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, on Sept. 28 (this Saturday), despite the threat of violence by neo-Nazis, the Balkan Insight reported on Thursday.
The newspaper reports an "official security assessment of the parade is still unfinished" but is due Friday so "no one yet knows if the parade is going to take place."
According to Reuters, however, gay rights activists in Serbia still plan to hold the event despite the proposed threat of violence.
The threat is taken with great concern as Serbian riot police faced off against neo-Nazis at the 2010 Belgrade Pride, where more than 200 people were arrested. The parade was not held the following year, and 2012’s Pride was banned.
"Conservative societies across the Balkans have been slow to accept greater gay rights, but this year’s Pride has become a litmus test of the Serbian government’s commitment to tolerance and diversity as it seeks closer ties with the EU," Reuters writes.
Though government officials haven’t made a final decision on how to handle security at the parade, one cabinet minister said he will march in the event, which indicates the parade will likely take place.
"As far as we’re concerned, it is certain (to go ahead)," Belgrade Pride organizer and rights activist Goran Miletic said at a news conference, according to Reuters. "We are working out all the details with the police, but we haven’t heard their security assessment yet."
The news outlet reports Serbia’s conservatives and nationalist party groups are urging for anti-gay protests this Saturday in Belgrade, which may raise the risk of violence. Authorities have removed traffic signs in downtown Belgrade, where violence broke out in 2010, on Thursday in anticipation of them being ripped down and used as weapons.
"This amounts to the imposition of foreign and unsuitable values, laid out before the most vulnerable section of society - minors," senior member of the right-wing Dveri party, Bosko Obradovic, said, according to Reuters.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dacic hasn’t been clear about his stance on the issue. He said on Wednesday that the parade will be held, unless the security assessment is a large threat to public safety. When asked if he would attend, he said, "No. Do I have to become gay?"