If Serbian gay rights activists go ahead with a planned parade in Belgrade on September 28, “It will be just like in 2010”, Ivan Ivanovic, of the rightist group “Naši” has warned, referring to bloody street clashes that year with police guarding the Belgrade Pride participants.
With an official security assessment of the parade still unfinished – it is due on Friday – no one yet knows if the parade is going to take place.
Meanwhile, at a September 24 press conference, an assortment of right-wing nationalist organizations, including the president of the now banned Obraz movement, Mladen Obradovic, denounced the planned parade and announced their own counter-protests for the same day.
Ivanovic warned of trouble on the streets, just as in 2010, if the authorities decide to permit the Pride Parade.
“People are deeply unsatisfied, and are telling us that they will go onto the streets in vast numbers to protest. If that happens again, we all know that Belgrade streets will see bloodshed, and that’s in no one’s interest,” he warned.
He described the idea of holding a Gay Pride rally in Serbia as “an attempt to break the Serbian social code”, which formed part of a “CIA plan for Serbia implemented after October 5, 2000 [when Slobodan Milosevic’s nationalist regime was toppled].”
He said they had filed criminal charges against the Gay Pride organizers with Serbia’s Constitutional Court, but had not received an answer.
“Behind this [parade] are the embassies of Holland, Germany and Norway, which shows that someone feels it is in their interest to undermine our constitution, laws, and above all our Orthodox religion and our culture,” he maintained.
“Although we have nothing against them [gays and lesbians], we do not want them on the streets, spreading LGBT propaganda,” he added.
Another rightist activist, Milica Djurdjevic of Srpski Sabor Zavetnici, complained that annual rows over Gay Pride parades only distracted Serbs from their real social and political problems.
“They are trying to shake the very foundations, the last pillars holding us together,” Djurdjevic lamented.
She added: “On the other hand, nobody can ban someone from participating in a public event. That’s against the law.”
Finally, Mladen Obradovic, of Srbski Obraz, greeted those present with an Orthodox Christian salutation before declaring that Serbia was run by a consortium of foreign powers.
“Foreign forces do not only shape our government, they also shape our internal and foreign policy,” he claimed.
“They are destroying us from the outside, trying to take a part of our territory,” he added, referring to Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 and has since been recognised by most Western governments.
“But the internal destruction is even worse,” he continued, “by allowing a parade of homosexuals who claim to feel endangered.”
He said that Srbski Obraz and other rightists planned several gatherings of their own for the day, including one in front of the Saborna Orthodox church in Belgrade.
“I wonder how they will explain banning these protests and others scheduled for the day,” he said, musing on the possibility of a police ban.
Another rally planned for September 28 has been billed as a “National Gathering for Childbirth”, sponsored by the rightist group ” SNP 1389″, while a rally for the protection of the Serbian Cyrillic script is to be staged in front of the Culture Ministry.
“We will have several other gatherings organized by citizens in different parts of the town. Our data say that seven gatherings are organized,” he said, adding that if the authorities ignored their request to ban the gay parade, they can hardly ban the rightist gatherings planned for the same day.
He urged people to come in large numbers to the alternative gatherings.
Meanwhile, the police security accessment of the Pride Parade is due out on Friday. Based on its conclusions, the Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic will make a final decision.
(Source: Balkan Insight, 26 Sep 2013)
Updated (26 Sep 2013 13:27 EST)
BELGRADE, Sept 26 (Reuters) – Gay rights activists in Serbia said they expected to hold their first Pride march in three years on Saturday, undeterred by the risk of violence from right-wing nationalists who rioted during the last such event in 2010.
The government says no final decision has been taken pending a security assessment by police, who will have to mount a huge operation to secure the event. One cabinet minister has said he will join the march, indicating it will likely go ahead.
“As far as we’re concerned, it is certain (to go ahead),” Belgrade Pride organiser and rights activist Goran Miletic told a news conference.
“We are working out all the details with the police, but we haven’t heard their security assessment yet,” he said.