Serbian justice minister calls for ban on extremist threats

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Slobodan Homen, a justice minister in Belgrade, has told the B92 television station in the wake of the city’s cancelled gay pride march the government hopes to silence organisations “that voice threats”.

After threats were received and organisers met with Belgrade police, the parade, due to take place last Sunday in the city centre, was called off.

Homen identified two political groups which had voiced their opposition to Sunday’s march: Obraz, and the Serb Popular Movement 1389. The cancellation of the parade was described as a victory over “infidels and Satanists” by the anti-gay protestors who remained in the city centre on the day of the scheduled march.

Mladen Obradovic, the leader of the group Obraz, meaning ‘honour’, had warned that it would be the organisers of the event who would be responsible if they followed through their plan to host it in the city.

Serbian President Boris Tadic had expressed reluctance for the march to be abandoned, warning against an “atmosphere of chaos”.

Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas also regretted the decision and echoed Homen’s words about banning extremist groups who behave threateningly or “condone violence”.

The city’s last Pride event, in 2001, ended violently in clashes with extremist groups.

Serbian Chief of Police Milorad Veljovic reported to the television station alongside Slobodan Homen that 37 extremists were arrested after the Serb Popular Movement 1389 call to protest, and that four had already been sentenced on Monday.