BELGRADE — (09-10-22) — The international EuroPride parade and festival that was scheduled to be held in Belgrade this year, is still on being put on hold by Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic.  The Serbian leader reiterated on Saturday that safety concerns are the reason for his decision.

The security situation regarding the march of LGBTQ activists in the capital remained “difficult,” said Vucic on Saturday. “It’s possible that there could be major unrest… we want to avoid that,” said Vucic.

The president had already announced back in August that the EuroPride parade would be called off, after thousands of conservatives had taken to the streets of the capital to protest the LGBTQ event.

Vucic said it was unsafe to hold the event due to threats from right-wing extremists and to fears of violence. Serbia had been selected to host EuroPride 2022 and it was scheduled to take place between September 12 and 17.

Serbian authorities “won’t invent any nonsense” to ban the LGBTQ march, the president insisted on Saturday, refuting reports that the government was using every excuse in the book to cancel the event.

Vucic shot back more at critics by saying on Saturday that “The decision on the parade will be made by the country’s interior ministry 96 hours before its planned kickoff “in line with the Constitution and laws,” said Vucic.

One of the EuroPride 2022 organizers, Goran Miletic, said last Thursday that none of the EuroPride festival’s range of activities, including the parade, had been officially cancelled.

“We don’t consider it an option to cancel or postpone the Parade. It will happen according to a plan, because EuroPride cannot be imagined without a Parade,” said Miletic, inviting everyone to join the march on September 17 and to “walk together for love.” said Miletic.

The Council of Europe commissioner for human rights Dunja Mijatovic said last week that Brussels has been working with the authorities in Belgrade “to ensure that freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are guaranteed for everyone, without discrimination” during the festival.

Serbia has pledged to protect LGBTQ rights as part of its integration into the European blog but with actions such as this, it may be far more difficult for the Eastern European country.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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