Belgrade Pride Parade will not be held

BELGRADE -- The Belgrade Pride Parade, planned for Saturday, will not be held, the Bureau for the Coordination of Security Services has announced.

The police are seen in Belgrade on Friday (Tanjug)
The police are seen in Belgrade on Friday (Tanjug)

The Bureau held a meeting on Friday afternoon that lasted several hours, and made the decision.

PM Ivica Dačić told RTS that this "did not mean a capitulation to hooligans." He also noted that the security assessment reached by the Bureau was unanimous, that "nobody could guarantee a safe holding of the parade," while there were "serious threats to the peace and public order."

"The only limitation that will always be there are security reasons, when it comes to any (public) gathering," Dačić stressed.

The prime minister also noted that other events were being held in Belgrade throughout this week related to the Pride Parade and LGBT rights.

The session of the Bureau on Friday was scheduled by its chair, Aleksandar Vučić, who stated earlier in the day that the decision would be made according to the citizens' interests. The meeting was attended by heads of Serbia's security services, as well as representatives of the Prosecutor's Office.

Organizers of the planned gay parade announced previously that everything was ready for the gathering to go ahead and that they expected the authorities to allow it.

According to reports, the police was also prepared, with 6,500 officers set to provide security for the event - which would have been the largest deployment of the police in the history of Belgrade.

At the same time, several right-wing organizations announced they would rally on Saturday during the holding of the Pride Parade, but these gatherings have also been banned on Friday.

Belgrade Pride Organizing Committee member Goran Miletić told B92 earlier that he hoped today's meeting of the Bureau was of a technical nature and that its participants would discuss security issues, rather than consider banning the march.

He also stated that while the parade "is not listed as a condition for the EU" a decision not to allow it "would have severe consequences, because it would violate the fundamental right to freedom of assembly."