BELGRADE — (08-29-22) — As expected thousands of religious and right-wing activists protested against the upcoming European Gay Pride event through the Serbian capital on Sunday, even though the government had announced that it would scrap or delay the Pride event entirely.

Belgrade is due to host the EuroPride Parade on Saturday Sept. 17. The European Gay Pride Event is staged at different European city each year, however President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday it would be cancelled or postponed, citing threats from right-wing activists.

The anti-LGBT Pride protest was led by the clergy from the Serbian Orthodox Church, some of whose bishops say that the Pride event threatens traditional family values and should be banned.

“Save our children and family,” read one of the banners held up by protesters on Sunday, some of whom also carried crosses. Others who joined Sunday’s march chanted slogans in support of far-right or nationalist causes that belong back in the dark ages. Some even waved Russian flags, a show of support for Moscow, Serbia’s traditional ally.

President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday EuroPride would be scrapped or held later for safety reasons. “It will happen but in some other and happier time,” said the president.

A U.N. representative in Serbia criticized Belgrade’s ban on EuroPride. “It would go against Serbia’s international human rights commitments,” said Francoise Jacob, the U.N. resident coordinator in Serbia, in a statement to news outlets.

Previous Serbian governments have banned Pride parades in the past, drawing criticism from human rights groups and others. Some Pride marches in the early 2000s were marred by violence.

But recent Pride marches in Serbia have passed off peacefully, a change cited by EuroPride organizers as one reason why Belgrade was chosen as the 2022 host.

While Serbia is a candidate to join the EU, it must first meet demands to improve the rule of law and its human and minority rights record. They must also root out organized crime and corruption and make peace with Kosovo.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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