Sunday, September 20, 2009

Threats of Violence Cause Serbia Pride Cancellation

As we celebrate Pride in the Park today in Roanoke today, let's remember that there are LGBT people in the world who have it a lot worse than we do.

(From On Top)

"Amid threats of violence, Serbian gay rights leaders have canceled their September 20 Gay Pride Parade, the AFP reported.

A counter demonstration being organized by the ultra-nationalist Serb Popular Movement 1389 is expected to take place as planned. The group hailed the cancellation of the march as “a great victory for normal Serbia.”

Pride Parade organizers said they expected the march to draw about 1000 people to the streets of Belgrade, Serbia's capital and one of Europe's oldest cities.

Anti-gay graffiti warning “We are expecting you!” had been left on buildings in the capital.

On Friday, Serbian President Boris Tadic promised to protect the parade, saying, “The state will do everything to protect people, whatever their national, religious, sexual or political orientation, and no group must resort to threats and violence, or take justice into its own hands and jeopardize the lives of those who think or are different.”

But during a meeting with Prime Minister Mirko Cvektovic organizers say authorities told them they could not guarantee protection for the event. Organizers rejected a change of venue suggested by police.

“We were told in the meeting with Prime Minister Cvektovic that the gathering is impossible for security reasons and that we should choose another location,” said Dragana Vuckovic, a spokesperson for the organizing Pride Parade committee.

“Taking the Pride Parade to another location is simply not acceptable,” Vuckovic said. “Pride parades are traditionally organized in the main streets of big cities and the message is that groups kept on the fringes of a society need to be integrated.”

The parade was widely seen as a major test for the government, which has been pushing pro-Western reforms in an effort to boost its European Union application. A law banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians was approved by the government over the loud objections of nationalists and religious leaders in March.

A 2001 gay rights march ended in violence when police failed to protect marchers from nationalists."

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