Serbian government threatens to cancel Belgrade Pride
UPDATE: The parade was banned.
As foreseen, an lgbt pride march scheduled for Sunday in Belgrade is in jeopardy of being canceled by government officials who say they cannnot guarantee the safety of participants. From Irish Times:
Serbian authorities may ban Sunday's gay rights parade in Belgrade and all other public gatherings this weekend, fearing a replay of the violence at last year's parade, officials said today. Gay and human rights activists plan to gather in a park on Sunday and then march past government buildings. Ultranationalist groups have said they will stage a counter-rally.
More than 100 policemen were injured last year and dozens of ultranationalists arrested after trying to disrupt the parade. Rioters attacked offices of the ruling coalition parties, set ablaze the headquarters of the Democratic Party of president Boris Tadic, and did millions of dollars' worth of damage in the capital.
Interior minister Ivica Dacic, who heads the ruling Socialists, said the gay pride event posed a major security risk for ordinary people, property and police. "I would rather take the political responsibility for banning the event than see bloodshed," Mr Dacic said in a TV broadcast. He said as many as 5,000 security personnel, including anti-riot units, plainclothes agents and mounted police would be needed to secure the event. Belgrade mayor Dragan Djilas [also] called for it to be cancelled.
Goran Miletic, a human rights activist and one of the organisers of the parade, said a ban would be a capitulation to intolerance. "Violence is not normal. What is normal in a democratic country is to have people rallying peacefully for a couple of hours," he said.