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Wed Jul 23 22:24:18 SAST 2014

Serbian gays pressured to abandon parade plans

Sapa-dpa | 31 August, 2011 10:27
Participants hold a rainbow flag during a Pride Parade. File picture
Participants hold a rainbow flag during a Pride Parade. File picture
Image by: DAVID W CERNY / REUTERS

New pressure on Serbian gays to abandon plans for a Pride Parade in October emerge with a report that police may refuse orders to secure the high-risk event.

An independent police union has asked for a risk assessment of the parade, planned for October 2, hinting that it should be banned, the daily Blic said.

"The parade should not take place because it is likely to be hit by incidents similar to those a year ago," the president of the independent police union, Momcilo Vidojevic, told the newspaper.

In October 2010 thousands of extremists waged a virtual war on police securing Belgrade's first-ever Pride Parade. More than 100 officers were injured in the violence stretching over entire blocks.

Then around 5,000 attackers hurled stones, bottles and other missiles at several cordons of police securing the 1,000 gays and their supporters.

Asked whether police should have broader authority to use force against rioting attackers, Vidojevic said "more force is not a solution" because hooligans "are also citizens."

"Those who attack are also citizens those who are attacked are citizens, with police in the middle," he said.

One of the parade organizers, Goran Miletic, said he was surprised at the possibility of a police boycott because of the risk.

"You have hooligans in stadiums, but nobody bans football matches," he said.

In the run-up to the last year's parade, the atmosphere was heated by hate speeches from extremist groups, some politicians and the influential, ultra-conservative Serbian Orthodox Church.

Now extremists again are making threats, even saying that the parade could trigger a rebellion and a coup.

While organizers announced the date of the parade and asked the authorities for permission, the exact time and route of the parade was to be announced later because of security concerns.

The first-ever attempt to hold a gay parade in Belgrade, in 2001, was not secured by police and broke off even before it began when hooligans badly beat up a group of gays.

In 2009 police refused the gays permission to parade in central Belgrade, suggesting that they re-locate to a park in the sprawling New Belgrade, but the organizers refused and canceled the event.

In the traditionalist Serbian society, very few Serbian politicians have yet to openly support the right of gays to parade. Those asked mostly make token statements about rights, but also make sure to distance themselves from homosexuals.

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Wed Jul 23 22:24:18 SAST 2014 ::