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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 40
Serbian police ban Gay Pride and anti-Gay demo
Pride organizers respond with flashmob
Six anti-Gay extremists arrested
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Serbian police ban Gay Pride and anti-Gay demo
Pride organizers respond with flashmob
Six anti-Gay extremists arrested

By Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Serbian police announced Oct. 1 that they would not allow either a Gay Pride march or a right-wing anti-Gay demonstration scheduled for the following day in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.

Pride organizers immediately responded with a flashmob in downtown Belgrade. Several dozen LGBT Serbians blocked a street and displayed a banner reading 'Ljubav. Normalno' or 'Love. Normal.'

Police said they feared they would be unable to control mass violence if the competing events were allowed to take place.

'The Gay pride march and the anti-Gay protest planned in Belgrade today have been banned to avoid bloodshed,' Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said in his official announcement.

Serbian president Boris Tadic approved the ban, saying it was imposed to 'prevent violence and the possible loss of lives.'

Although both events were cancelled, riot police were deployed across Belgrade and other Serbian cities over the weekend to prevent trouble.

On Oct. 3, Serbian authorities announced that they had arrested six people for plotting to attack the Pride march, Some of those arrested were found with ski masks and baseball bats, police said.

Serbian authorities allowed a Pride march in 2010, for the first time in 10 years.

Some 20,000 ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi demonstrators turned out to protest it, however. More than 100 people were injured in clashes between anti-Gay extremists and police. Cars were burned and shops were looted. The embassies of several Western countries, including the United States, were set on fire.

Police said that this year, they were told that extremists planned to burn buildings in Belgrade to disrupt the Pride march.

Pride organizers were unwilling to cancel the event and accused authorities of giving in to threats.

'It is totally unbelievable that police have not clamped down against the extremists,' said Pride organizer Goran Miletic. 'We have spent four months preparing the Gay Pride march, and the authorities have done nothing.'

But human rights minister Milan Markovic told reporters that if the events were held as planned, many people could have been killed.

'It's far from the truth that the state has capitulated and that hooligans are more powerful than the state, that's complete nonsense,' Markovic said.

The ultranationalist Obraz group celebrated the ban on the Pride march as a 'victory for the Serb patriots.'

Obraz is an ultra-nationalist organization linked to right-wing figures in the Serbian Orthodox Church. They organized the 2010 anti-Gay rallies that resulted in rioting in central Belgrade.

Obraz also opposes Serbian membership in the European Union, the main foreign policy goal of Serbian president Tadic.

Serbian accession to the E.U. would entail a commitment to 'take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation,' as specified in Article 19 of the Treaty of Amsterdam.

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