Belgrade Pride Ban Will Affect EU Report
Reposted from Balkan Insight: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/belgrade-pride-ban-to-impact-eu-progress-report
The head of the EU delegation to Serbia warned that the recent ban on a gay Pride march will have an impact on the European Commission's next report on Serbia.
Michael Davenport, head of the EU delegation in Serbia, said the Serbian government needed to show that it was up to protecting human rights and would not tolerate violence.
"The banning of the [Pride] parade, which occured for the third time, will certainly be reflected in the report on Serbia's progress towards European integration, which should be released in mid-October," Davenport told the daily newspaper Politika.
The warning came after the authorities caved in to extremist threats for the third year in a row and banned the Pride parade on security grounds. The march was due to be held last Saturday.
Last year's EU progress report on Serbia noted that the activities of extreme right-wing organisations and violent so-called sports fans continued to be a major cause of concern.
"Serbian authorities need to develop a proactive approach towards the better inclusion of the LGBT population and a greater understanding across society," the report added.
According to Davenport, Brussels will want to see Serbia taking positive measures to prevent the use of force and intimidation in future.
"It is very important to show that extremist groups are actually a threat to society as a whole," the EU chief in Serbia said.
On Tuesday, police identified 39 persons who used social networks to threaten the organizers of the pride march, and filed criminal reports against 18.
Eight of the 39 are from Belgrade and 31 are from other Serbian towns and cities.
In 2009, 2011 and 2012, the authorities also banned the parade, after police declared they could not safeguard marchers from right-wing violence.
Serbia's first Pride march was brought to a halt in Belgrade in June 2001 when protesters clashed with police.
The march went ahead in 2010, but several thousand youngsters, including football fans and members of right-wing organisations, caused mayhem, throwing stones and missiles, injuring police officers and setting buildings and vehicles on fire.