Police ban Serbia Pride over violence threats

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Serbia’s gay Pride march has been banned by police.

Authorities fear a repeat of the violence that marred last year’s event and injured almost 100 police officers.

The event was to be held on Sunday in capital city Belgrade.

News source B92.net says police discovered that far-right extremists were planning to weaken security arrangements by starting fires.

But Pride organisers are said to be unwilling to call off the march.

Organiser Goran Miletic told Reuters earlier today that authorities should not give in to threats of violence.

“Violence is not normal. What is normal in a democratic country is to have people rallying peacefully for a couple of hours,” he said.

Serbia’s police chief, Belgrade’s mayor and the country’s interior minister have all called for the march to be cancelled.

Interior minister Ivica Dacic said that the event is a major security risk for the public, police and property as a far-right group plans to hold a march at the same time.

He told Reuters: “If I were the organisers I would recognise our security assessment and I would postpone the parade.

“If they do not make such a decision, the police will be forced to do so, as no one else will.”

Last year, 150 people – mostly police officers – were injured when 20,000 people held a counter-protest against the gay marchers.