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SHOCK: Belgrade Pride Canceled Amidst Violent Threats

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Today was supposed to be a joyous day for Serbian’s gays. That was until anti-gay opponents made the chance for a civil gay pride parade in Belgrade so unlikely, the government urged organizers to call things off. So they did.

Tomorrow’s parade would have been the first since 2001; the last one ended in violent outbursts as LGBTs and extremists clashed on the streets. But even with the cancellation, there seems to be some modicum of progress: Last year government officials refused to help protect the parade from antagonists. This year, they said they would help, and even President Boris Tadi got behind demands for a peaceful event.

But by today, it didn’t matter. Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic told organizers there was no amount of police (and they planned to send thousands) that could protect parade marchers in central Belgrade. The alternative — moving the march to a field — wasn’t good enough for organizers like Dragana Vuckovi, so they axed it. AFP:

Vuckovic said organisers cancelled the event, planned for Sunday, after police suggested it could instead take place in a field.

“That would be unacceptable for us. As a result we decided to cancel” the event, she told AFP.

The Beta news agency said police had proposed a large open space across the Sava river from the city centre, to host the event. It had been planned for outside the philosophy faculty in the middle of Belgrade.

“The message of equal rights is transmitted symbolically when a group on the margins is able to parade in the centre of the capital,” Vuckovic said.

She said the organisers were calling on the government to open an investigation to determine who had threatened the march.

Meanwhile, the Serb Popular Movement 1389 was celebrating, calling the cancellation a victory — and still planning to go ahead with its own planned anti-gay rally, taking place three hours before the pride parade was set to begin. So much for an appeal to the Serbian Orthodox Church to demand opponents stay calm during the parade.