Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Belgrade.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wants to cancel the Europride planned in Belgrade. “The Pride parade, or whatever you call it, will be postponed or canceled,” Vucic said on Saturday. As justification, he referred to “all sorts of problems”, including bottlenecks in energy and food supplies. But there are also security concerns over recent tensions between Serbia and Kosovo.
Orthodox Christians praise government’s decision
Thousands of Orthodox Christians took to the streets in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Sunday evening to support the government’s cancellation of Europride. As a photographer reported to the AFP news agency, the demonstrators carried icons of saints, crosses and religious flags through the city center and sang and prayed.
At the end they gathered in front of the Cathedral of Saint Sava. Bishop Nikanor praised the government’s decision to end “the desecration of our country, our church and our family”. Believers are ready to take to the streets again “to oppose those who want to destroy Serbia’s values”.
As seen in video footage released by the Glas Yavnosti news website, the bishop called non-heterosexual lifestyles an “abnormality” that should be dealt with like in Russia by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. The bishop in turn referred to him as the “Tsar of the Planet”.
LGTBQ community wants to host the event
The Serbian head of state Aleksandar Vucic announced on Saturday that the Europride planned for mid-September in Belgrade would be cancelled. “The Pride March, or whatever you want to call it, will be postponed or cancelled,” he said. As justification, he referred to “all sorts of problems” in his country, including bottlenecks in energy and food supplies. The organizers want to stick to the date.
Europride is a major pan-European event of the LGTBQ movement, which has been organized in a different European country every summer since 1992. The English abbreviation LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.
A “shame” for the Serbian Orthodox Church
The Serbian Orthodox Church has historically played an important role in influencing public opinion about gay, lesbian and other sexual minorities. She branded the Pride parades in Belgrade as a “disgrace”.
The first gay pride marches in Belgrade in 2001 and 2010 were marred by violence. The rally has been taking place regularly since 2014, accompanied by a large security presence.