SERBIA: As thousands of LGBTQ people marched in Serbia on Saturday to mark the conclusion of EuroPride week, an annual celebration held in a different European city, police and right-wing protestors engaged in violence.
According to Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, police engaged in combat with two right-wing organizations attempting to obstruct the march. She also noted that 64 protestors were detained, and ten police officers had minor injuries.
As Serbia’s first openly gay prime minister, Brnabic, told reporters, “I am very proud that we were able to prevent more serious incidents.”
The government had prohibited the march last week in response to concerns from nationalists and religious organizations. However, in response to requests from representatives of the European Union and human rights advocates, it permitted a more condensed march path.
The participants travelled several hundred meters on foot to the Tsmajdan stadium, where a concert was held.
Christopher Hill, the US ambassador to Serbia, and Vladimir Bilcik, the Serbia special rapporteur for the European Parliament, participated in the march.
Serbian administrations outlawed Pride parades in the past, angered human rights organizations and others. Early in the 2000s, some Pride marches encountered vehement resistance and were marred by violence.
Belgrade was selected as the host city for this year’s EuroPride because recent Pride marches there have gone off peacefully, according to the event’s organizers.
The government had been under heavy pressure from EU officials, western politicians, and local and international rights groups to allow the march to go ahead.
The organisers insisted throughout the week that they would not give up plans to hold the march.
Just hours before the march was scheduled, Brnabic announced that it would go ahead and said that she could guarantee that the streets of Belgrade would be safe.
According to local media reports, while Brnabic did not participate, she was represented by her partner.