Belgrade Pride banned again for 2012

Serbia’s Ministry of Interior announced today they would ban this year’s Belgrade Pride, just three days before it was due to take place. The ban repeats last year’s experience, when authorities declined authorising the event out of ‘safety concerns’.

Belgrade Pride sloganOrganisers learnt today that the pride would not go ahead. The National Security Council chose to outlaw the event, as well as any other public gathering on 6 October, fearing for public safety.

Several Members of the European Parliament, including Marije Cornelissen, Jelko Kacin and Keith Taylor, had planned attending the event. They should fly to Belgrade as planned later this week.

Reacting to the ban, Jelko Kacin MEP, European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, commented: “I regret that freedom of expression and assembly, two cornerstones of all European democracies, cannot be exercised freely by all Serbian citizens. This ban is a lost opportunity for Serbia, and it gives an impression the country does not deserve.”

“Serbian police are professional and capable of ensuring public law and order. I feel safe walking the street of Belgrade, and I am convinced state authorities could have ensured the safety of both the public and participants had they wanted to. This decision was a political one.”

Marije Cornelissen and Keith Taylor, MEPs from the Greens/EFA Group, added: “Unfortunately, homophobes won by threatening large-scale unrest and violence. Why does Serbia continue to allow high-risk football matches, providing police protection from hooligans but not homophobes? A decision like this should weigh heavily against Serbia in a decision on the opening of EU negotiations.”

The European Commission will publish the next accession reports for Serbia and several other countries next week.

Edited at 17:30.