Political leaders in Belgrade make plea for non violent Pride

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Political leaders have today warned right-wing extremists not to resort to violence ahead of Belgrade’s gay pride parade.

The Pride march will be the first one held for a decade after violent scenes caused the event to be cancelled last time it was held.

Authorities are taking a tough approach towards suspected troublemakers after two French supporters of Toulouse football club were injured in a clash with fans of Partizan Belgrade ahead of their match won 3-2 by Toulouse.

Right-wing groups who have already threatened violence against participants in Sunday’s gay pride parade.

On Monday Amnesty International accused the Serbian government of failing to protect human rights groups fighting for LGBT and women’s rights.

In a report by Amnesty International it was claimed that:

“Those fighting for equal rights in the country are putting their lives on the line in the face of physical attacks and hostility.”

It also claimed the media was publishing attacks on human rights defenders and in some cases, publishing their personal information and home addresses.

Serbian President Boris Tadic warned against creating an ‘atmosphere of chaos’ and ‘threats and violence’ in Belgrade after the violent scenes in the capital two days ahead of the planned gay parade.

‘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,’ he said.

Organisers said they expected up to a thousand people to join the parade, among them a number of public figures, foreign diplomats and gay activists from neighbouring countries.

Serbia is not a member of the EU but the government has declared European integration to be one of the strategic priorities for the Republic and it has been a potential candidate country for the EU accession since 2003.

A 2008 progress report from the European Commission on candidate countries said that in Serbia violent attacks, hate speech and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is prevalent.

Last week the Serbian Orthodox Church described the event as:

“Shame Parade, Parade of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

The locations of Queerbeograd events had not been publicised in advance for security reasons.