Serbian patriarch calls for ban of gay parade, exhibit

BELGRADE -- Serbian Patriarch Irinej has urged Prime Minister Ivica Dačić to ban the upcoming gay Pride Parade.

Patriarch Irinej (Beta, file)
Patriarch Irinej (Beta, file)

Irinej also called for the ban of a photo exhibit by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, which shows Jesus Christ dressed in women's clothing.

In a release submitted to Tanjug, the patriarch says the "tragicomic parade of shame" casts a heavy moral shadow on Belgrade, on Serbia's longstanding Christian culture and the dignity of the family, as the basic unit of humanity.

Commenting on the exhibit, which has stirred a lot of debate in the public, the patriarch said it was "deeply insulting."

"I had not expected that this year I would again be forced to turn to you on behalf of the Serbian Orthodox Church, its members, who are the dominant majority in Serbia, and on behalf of numerous members of other religions, with the plea and demand that, by your authority as prime minister, you prevent the scandalous exhibit of photographs by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin," Irinej wrote.

The parade is scheduled for October 6 in Belgrade, while the opening of the controversial exhibit dubbed "Ecce Homo" should take place Wednesday night at the Center for Cultural Decontamination.

The Dveri Movement has announced that it will file charges against the organizers of the exhibition for inciting national, racial and religious hatred and intolerance. The movement believes that the manifestation is aimed against traditional religions and religious communities.

Dveri will also file charges against the Center for Cultural Decontamination and it will set up stands where its activists will hand anti-gay leaflets to citizens.

Center for Cultural Decontamination Director Borka Pavićević has stated that she believes that the exhibit will be held without major problems.

Despite announcements, the Pride Parade organizers still have not been officially informed that the event will be banned.

Member of the Pride Parade Organizing Committee Goran Miletić says that the organizers respected the authorities’ decision to ban the parade in the previous years but that they “will not just sit” this year. He added that they would take certain steps if the parade was banned.

Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dačić has stated that the parade will be banned if security risks were too high. He told B92 that the police could, with the use of water cannons and firearms, enable the holding of the Pride Parade but that he was not ready to allow the holding of the event if the cost was the loss of many lives.

Democratic Party (DS) leader Boris Tadić has supported the holding of the parade. According to announcements, Swedish European Affairs Minister Eva Birgitta Ohlsson, who will visit Belgrade on October 5-6, will also participate in the parade.

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Čedomir Jovanović has also supported the Pride Parade, adding that the state is obligated to enable the holding of the manifestation.

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom has stated that “all eyes are on Serbia” ahead of the Pride Parade.

New Serbia: Parade should be cancelled

The New Serbia (NS) called on the government and the Interior Ministry on Wednesday to cancel the Pride Parade and all other rallies scheduled for October 6 for security reasons, urging members of the LGBT population to fight for their rights through state institutions, rather than by organizing a parade, which could endanger security of citizens and public peace and order.

“Without opposing the constitutional right that all who believe that their rights are endangered should fight for them, we are urging the government and the Interior Ministry to cancel the parade for security reasons, as well as all other rallies scheduled for October 6, 2012,” the NS statement reads.

The party underlined that at the moment it is more important to focus on economic consolidation, economic recovery, attraction of new investments and fight against corruption and crime than organization of the Pride Parade.