Serbia cancels pride event amid Kosovo tensions


Southern Europe


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic talks during a press conference in Belgrade. Photo EPA, Andrej Cukic

Serbia has cancelled the EuroPride in its capital, Belgrade. President Aleksandar Vucic announced at a press conference that the pan-European LGBT event cannot take place because of fears of disturbances. The economic situation and tensions with neighbouring Kosovo also play a role, Vucic said.

EuroPride was to be held in Belgrade from 12 to 18 September. A Pride Walk would also be held, during which demonstrations for LGBT rights would be traditionally held. Belgrade was designated as the venue three years ago. But the authorities in the Balkan country do not consider such an event justified now.

"Several problems currently plague us," the president said. In his speech, Vucic also referred to far-right groups and the Serbian Orthodox Church, who do not want the EuroPride to go ahead. Recently, thousands of people marched in a demonstration against the event. As CNE reported earlier, an Orthodox Bishop said that he was opposed to the event and that he "would use weapons to stop it, if he could".

The Serbian Orthodox Church is happy with Vucic' decision. "The Holy Synod of Bishops is confident that holding this “parade” in order to popularize the LGBT ideology imposed on Europe and the so-called Western world in general would not benefit anyone", a statemnent on the Orthodox news website Pravo Slavie reads. "On the contrary, [a march] would cause additional tension and new divisions".


LGBT organisations in the country have reacted furiously. They point out that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Pride cannot be cancelled by a government or state just like that.

At his press conference, Vucic also called on the openly lesbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic to form a new government. Brnabic does not see herself as an advocate of LGBT rights and conservative Serbia is not considered to be explicitly LGBT friendly either.

Despite the ban on the event, the organisers announced that they would still march through the capital. According to them, a ban would be unconstitutional.

While pursuing EU membership, Serbia has taken steps to give protection to LGBT groups. However, large parts of society violently reject LGBT livestyles. Pride marches in the Serbian capital have only been able to go ahead with heavy police protection since a 2010 attack, writes German news site Deutsche Welle.



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