Serbian police ‘cancel’ Belgrade Pride despite assurances it would be protected

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It has been claimed that Serbian police this morning effectively cancelled permission for tomorrow’s Belgrade pride to be held in its planned city centre location.

After organisers met with police, they said that the event had been cancelled as a result of high security risks and a lack of co-operation from the police that meant they had no choice but to call off the event.

Just yesterday, Serbian President Boris Tadic warned against creating an “atmosphere of chaos'” and “threats and violence”. He said: “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.”

In a statement, the organisers of the event said a “full security study was commissioned more than three months ago by pride organisers and executed by the university defence department constructing a detailed strategy for all logistical possibilities to carry out pride safely with full instructions for how police would secure pride participants entrance to the parade, their safety during the event and their ability to leave the event unmolested.

They added that the “study also made detailed recommendations for preventative measures that could be taken by police in the months leading up to pride to minimise the risk of violence.” But they claim that the “police did not undertake these measures and despite months of meetings with pride organisers and daily meetings in the past two weeks have failed to act on security measures, instead choosing the
tactic of pressurising organisers to cancel the event.”

Adding that in the last 48 hours the police “refused all cooperation for the securing of the pride, applying further pressure to organisers to cancel.

“Police refused to take responsibility for maintaining public order during the event. Instead telling the pride organisers that they would be held responsible for any public damage caused by the hooligans and fascist groups who have been organising a violent response to pride.”

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

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

A report 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.

Pride organisers said that they have “officially requested that police take action against fascist and right wing organisations who have issued hate speech against LGBT groups and pride in the press. Pride organisers continue to meet today to discuss possible courses of action to demonstrate against this failure by Serbian state and police to defend our most basic human rights, the right to safely walk the streets.”