By Melanie Nathan, September 20, 2015.
Several hundred people participated today in a Pride Parade, held by LGBT activists in the Serbian Capital of Belgrade. Not unlike the genesis of Pride parades across the world, including in the USA, Belgrade Pride was held with controversy and with danger to all who participated. While times have changed in most Western countries, the trajectory for countries like Serbia is unknown – however with thanks to this open forum, the future is not without hope. The support of authorities in protecting marchers was key to the success of this Pride.
Threats of disruption by far-right groups in past years had forced the government to cancel this event. In 2010, during Belgrade’s first-ever gay parade, hard-line nationalists attacked participants and clashed with police, wounding 150 people. Last year was the first year that the Pride Parade resumed in Belgrade.
Today, hundreds of riot police were deployed in the city center, on standby to protect against attacks. There were several armored and water cannon vehicles parked at main crossings in the downtown area where roads were closed to traffic since the early morning.
There were no reports of violence at the Belgrade event. The atmosphere was festive as supportive community waved rainbow flags and carried colorful balloons.
It has been reported that several men wearing masks were arrested by police on suspicion of planning to attack participants in the parade and approximately 50 people were detained. Nearby counter protests were held.
Marchers were joined by Serbia’s European Integration Minister Jadranko Joksimovic, Culture and Information Minister Ivan Tasovac, and Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali and the American Ambassador Hon. Michael Kirby.
Well done Serbia’s Belgrade LGBTQI community – the world is watching and your global family is with you!