Serbian Police Urge Govt to Safeguard Gay Pride
Reposted from Balkan Insight: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/police-union-calls-govt-to-protect-gay-pride
The Serbian police union has asked the government to ensure protection for all participants at Saturday's Pride Parade, criticising officials for their apparent ambiguity about whether it should take place or not.
In a sternly worded letter sent to state leaders, the police union said it was ready to do its job and protect Saturday's planned Pride parade in Belgrade even though it was in a difficult financial situation and poorly equipped to do so.
"Serbian police officers will ensure that all human and civil rights guaranteed in the consitution are respected and will protect public order and prevent chaos in the streets," the union said.
The union criticised officials for their apparent ambiguity on the issue and urged the authorities to ensure protection of both participants and police.
"You, gentlemen, have one day [ahead] decided that a gay parade is in the interest of the country, and right after that you boldly announced that you will not attend the event," the letter noted.
The union especially criticized Prime Minister Ivica Dacic for stating on the eve of the parade that he saw homosexuality as abnormal.
"It does not matter if any of us personally agree with the parade, but that a prime minister and interior minister of a country said this," the police union added.
The police have also requested that strict punishments be enforced on anyone who attacks either the police or the participants.
According to the union, if the state can engage 5,000 police officers to secure the parade, it should also engage at least 50 judges and prosecutors for work that day, to process through urgent procedures all those who attempt to disrupt the gathering by violence.
The Interior Ministry has yet to complete a security evaluation of the parade, which is considered essential in a country with a tradition of violent opposition to gay marches.
The first Pride march in Serbia in 2001 was brought to a halt when protesters in Belgrade clashed with police.
In 2009, 2011 and 2012, the authorities banned the parade altogether after police declared they could not safeguard marchers from the threat of right-wing violence.
The Pride march went ahead in 2010. However, thousands of 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.