Serbian authorities decide to ban gay parade

BELGRADE -- The Serbian authorities on Wednesday decided to ban the gay parade, scheduled for October 6 in Belgrade, and cited security concerns as the reason for the ban.

MUP officers secure the area around the 'Ecce Homo' exhibition location (Tanjug)
MUP officers secure the area around the 'Ecce Homo' exhibition location (Tanjug)

All other gatherings planned for Saturday have also been banned. The Interior Ministry (MUP) made its decision based on security assessments.

Earlier in the day Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej urged the authorities to ban the parade, and an exhibition, deemed to be insulting to Christians.

The exhibition, dubbed "Ecce Homo", and the gay parade were planned as part of the week-long Belgrade Pride 2012.

Right-wing movement Dveri also asked for the show to be banned.

At 16:30 CET on Wednesday, several hundred police officers in riot gear were deployed around the Center for Cultural Decontamination where the controversial exhibition opened this evening.

The police also shut down the traffic in several surrounding streets as a security precaution.

Previously, Prime Minister Ivica Dačić - who also serves as interior minister - said that the parade would be banned if security services found the risk of violence associated with it was too high.

Goran Miletić, one of the organizers, told B92 that they had received an explanation from the MUP "which said absolutely nothing except to quote a legal article which stated that it had been appraised that security could be jeopardized during the gathering".

"If the state capitulated last year, this is an open coalition with hooligans considering that representatives of the executive branch of government completely adopted the arguments of extremist organizations, and even their demands," said Miletić.

PM explains decision

The Ministry of the Interior stated that on the basis of all security assessments and recommendations, it decided to ban all gatherings scheduled for October 6 in order to preserve the peace and security of citizens and their property, the government said on its website.

Such a decision was made on the basis of Article 11 of the Law on Public Gatherings, the assessment of security services, the police and the Office for Coordination of Work of Security Services, as well as in view of the announcement of a serious threat to public order and security of citizens during public gatherings scheduled for that day, the statement further said.

Ivica Dačić underlined that this decision is not aimed at harming and denying anyone's human and civil rights and freedoms.

It has been made in order to protect the safety of citizens of Belgrade and prevent possible clashes and riots that might threaten diplomatic and consular offices of foreign states too, he was quoted as saying.

"First of all, this decision was made in order to protect the lives of citizens, including members of the police," Dačić said and added that only for securing today’s exhibition, "which causes great distress to the public because in it Jesus Christ is mentioned in a provocative context", at least 2,000 policemen must be engaged.

The prime minister added that at this moment, "the last thing Serbia needs are clashes and victims", and concluded:

"It is very important for the credibility of Serbia to show the strength of the state. And this does not amount to any kind of capitulation before some who think they can use their paramilitary or any other threats to endanger the holding of public gatherings - it means that it has been assessed that, at this time, serious violations of public peace and order could occur, which would seriously jeopardize interests of the citizens and the state as a whole."