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Belgrade Pride Parade cancelled due to high risk of violence (AFP, B92 News)

Tuesday 22 September 2009, by siawi

19/09/09 18:30

— Forwarded Message—

> Van : Shebar Windstone

Ironically, outrageously, frustratingly & painfully, one could go to the neo-nazi-racist-homophobic-fascist website &, in the Serbian forum, find a discussion thread started on 3 March 2009 with almost the same title as many of today’s news headlines: PARADE PEDERA NECE BITI !!! [Parade of Pederasts Will Not Happen!!!]

In other news, Belgrade police announced the arrests of some twenty soccer fans/hooligans charged with last week’s attack on visiting French soccer fans that has left one in critical condition with head, chest and pelvic injuries. I haven’t yet seen any coverage in Serbian or English of responses to the neo-Nazis’ announcement that they will hold a rally in the same place and three hours earlier than the scheduled LGBTiQ rally would have been held (which sounds like it could be a replay of neo-Nazis taking over the streets after forcing cancellation of a queer art exhibit in Belgrade a couple of years ago).

Scarecely mentioned at all in English-language coverage is the issue of media contributions to the atmosphere of intimidation and fear that led to today’s cancellation. (While media publicized the death threats issued by numerous neo-fascist groups and incitements to hatred promulgated by the church, government officials defended their right to freedom of expression — much as the “rights” of racist, homo/transphobic & anti-abortion terrorists are defended in the USA.) Please see the link further down for a translation of B92’s story on this subject today. Here’s an excerpt:

Dinko Gruhonji from the Independent Society of Journalists of Vojvodina is much more critical and requires the state to respond.

“Number one, I wonder how it is possible for clericofascistic organizations in general to exist in a democratic state, and number two, I do not know why we were taking statements from clericofascist organizations,” said Gruhonji .

“I urge the police to act on orders, or law, and to prohibit such organizations, and to arrest the persons responsible, because if they do - then there would be no problem about the Pride parade,” he said.

Stasa Zajovic of Belgrade WiB, in her statement during the news conference on Sept. 17th, called for resistance to clericofascism, as Belgrade Women in Black has done consistently for years.

Nationalist glee as Belgrade Gay Pride cancelled

By Pierre Glachant (AFP) – September 19, 2009‎

BELGRADE — Organisers of a Gay Pride parade in Belgrade on Saturday called off the march after the government said it could not prevent clashes with extremists, rejecting a suggestion to shift the venue.

The event would have been the first for nearly a decade since the last gay rights march broke up amid violent clashes with right-wing extremists.

Nationalists hailed the cancellation saying it was a defeat for “infidels and Satanists.”

Organiser Dragana Vuckovic told B92 television that Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic “handed us a paper informing us that the parade was not possible (in central Belgrade) because the risks were too high,.”

Vuckovic said organisers cancelled the event, planned for Sunday, after police suggested it could instead take place in a field.

“That would be unacceptable for us. As a result we decided to cancel” the event, she told AFP.

The Beta news agency said police had proposed a large open space across the Sava river from the city centre, to host the event. It had been planned for outside the philosophy faculty in the middle of Belgrade.

“The message of equal rights is transmitted symbolically when a group on the margins is able to parade in the centre of the capital,” Vuckovic said.

She said the organisers were calling on the government to open an investigation to determine who had threatened the march.

Vuckovic hailed messages of support from the authorities and vowed to try again next year but alleged there had been “operational obstructions” to staging the parade.

President Boris Tadic warned Friday against creating an “atmosphere of chaos” and “threats and violence” in Belgrade after two French football fans were injured in a clash with fans of Partizan Belgrade.

Football supporters are prominent in the nationalist and right-wing groups which had threatened violence against participants in the gay rights march.

“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 jeopardise the lives of those who think or are different,” Tadic said.

Organisers had said they expected up to 1,000 people to join the parade, among them a number of public figures, foreign diplomats and gay activists from neighbouring countries.

Interior Minister Ivica Dacic had said that thousands of police would be deployed.

The ultra-nationalist Serb Popular Movement 1389 hailed the cancellation of the march as “a great victory for normal Serbia.”

The group said it would be going ahead with its own demonstration planned at the philosophy faculty at 8:00 am (0600 GMT), three hours before the Gay Pride would have begun, for a “non-violent and non-deviant popular Serb rally.”

“In our city, infidels and Satanists will not pass,” it added.

The parade, supported by the ministry for human rights and minorities, would have been the first gay rights march since a rally in 2001 ended in violence when police failed to protect participants from attacks by football hooligans.

In March parliament passed a law banning discrimination against homosexuals despite opposition from nationalists and religious leaders, but gays and lesbians are still blocked from marrying, adopting children and other rights enjoyed by heterosexuals.

Belgrade Pride organisers had also called on the Serbian Orthodox Church to make an appeal for calm. But the Church said it could not accept the event, calling it a “Shame Parade, Parade of Sodom and Gomorrah”.

Ultra-nationalist group, Nasi (Ours), warned that “European Union and American leaders who support (homosexuals) should know that as long as there are Orthodox Serbs there will be no homosexual parade in Serbia.”

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

Pride Parade cancelled due to high risk of violence

19 September 2009 | 11:31 -> 16:32 | Source: B92
> BELGRADE — Authorities have told organizers of
> the Pride Parade that the safety of its
> participants cannot be guaranteed and that,
> therefore, the event cannot be held.

> Organizers held an emergency press conference
> after a meeting with Prime Minister Mirko
> Cvetkovic, at which they were told that the risk
> of excessive attacks on the rally is too great
> for police to guarantee safety for everyone involved.
> Organizers of the Pride Parade stated that this
> does not mean that the event will be prohibited,
> rather that it may be relocated, because the risk
> of excessive attacks is very high, and the police
> might not be able to protect the participators at
> the agreed location­the plateau in front of the Philosophy Faculty.
> “It is not a prohibition de jure, but a
> prohibition de facto,†Organizational Committee official Dušan Kosanovic said.
> Minority organizations have stated that moving
> the rally to a different location is out of the question.
> Kosanovic said that the recommendation to move
> the rally to UÅ¡ e, located on the mouth of the
> Sava River into the Danube, where many large
> concert events are held, is not acceptable.
> He said that according to the law on public
> gatherings, no rally has been scheduled to be
> held at that location, and therefore cannot be allowed.
> “The symbolism of this event everywhere in the
> world is to symbolically walk through the center
> of the city and show that we are equal citizens.
> We don’t want to walk on some field in Ušce, that
> would not be a Pride Parade,†organizational
> committee member Majda Puaca said.
> The organizers were also offered to move the
> event to the Palace of Serbia, which was also denied.
> Organizational Committee official Dragana
> Vuckovic told B92 that the state has officially
> told them that the event cannot be held because
> of excessive risks of violence.
> At the press conference, the government was also
> accused of bowing down in the face of violence.
> Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said that the state
> is not prohibiting the event, but rather
> recommending that it be moved to a location at
> which it can be properly secured by the police.
> The government issued a statement, saying that it
> approved the Pride Parade despite security risks
> and reccomended that the organizers relocate the
> rally in front of the Palace of Serbia.
> “The Internal Affairs Ministry stated that this
> location would be completely secure for
> participators of the event and other citizens,
> and that public order, peace and personal
> property, city property and diplomatic-consular
> headquarters would all be protected,†the government stated.
> “The government has ordered state institutions to
> take all necessary measures to stop violence,
> uncover and arrest those who threaten with
> violence. The government will ensure public order
> and peace, the security of the citizens and
> property, and the right of every citizen to enjoy
> his or her constitutional and legally guaranteed rights,†the statement adds.
> Swedish ambassador: Cancellation strange, sad
> Swedish ambassador to Serbia Krister Bringeus
> told B92 that it is strange and sad that the
> Pride Parade was postponed because of security reasons.
> “The Pride Parade is a normal thing in Europe,
> especially in 2009. Such festivals are held in
> all European capitals,†she said.
> “This summer on the streets of Stockholm, the
> Pride Parade had 15,000 participants, including
> the Swedish Prime Minister. For me it was a
> natural thing for the same thing to happen in Belgrade,†Bringeus said.
> “I am sure that the Serbian police were ready to
> take all measures for protecting the
> participators of the Pride Parade. I am impressed
> with the professionalism shown by Minister Ivica
> Dacic and his people,†the ambassador said.
> “The fact that the Parade will not be held is sad
> and strange,†concluded Bringeus, whose country
> is presiding over the EU currently.

Video of Pride organizer Dragana Vuckovic interviewed by B92 News (5:37, 17.2 MB)
[In Serbian. Close-captioned for hearing-challenged.]