Serbian President: Prepare For Gay Pride 2014 Now

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from Balkan Insight:

Following the cancellation of this year's Belgrade Pride march, President Tomislav Nikolic said that Serbia should immediately start preparations for the 2014 parade.

"We should begin preparations for the next year's parade today," Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said on Monday.

His statement came after Serbia's national security bureau for the third year in a row banned the Belgrade Pride parade scheduled for Saturday over concerns about the possibility of violent clashes.

Nikolic said that under the constitution, all Serbian nationals, including members of the LGBT community, have a guaranteed right to demonstrate.

He said that the organiation of the rally should have involved all stakeholders, from security agencies and media to non-governmental organisations and international institutions to prepare the ground on time.

"As this has not been done, we now have a situation where a less significant event [the banning of the Pride march] may jeopardise [Serbia’s] European trip," Nikolic said.

He was referring to the numerous condemnations of the ban that have come from the EU.

Michael Davenport, head of the EU delegation in Serbia, said that the ban would have an impact on the European Commission's report on Serbia's progress towards joining the bloc.

Serbia is expected to start EU accession talks in January.

In 2009, 2011 and 2012, the authorities also banned the parade altogether after police declared they could not safeguard marchers from right-wing violence.

The country's first Pride march was brought to a halt in Belgrade in June 2001 when protesters clashed with police.

The Pride 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.

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