SERBIA: Belgrade Pride Canceled Over Fears Of More Neo-Nazi Rioting
Saying they fear a repeat of last year's violence, the government of Serbia has canceled this weekend's pride celebrations. Last year Serbian riot police battled hundreds of neo-Nazi anti-gay rioters at Belgrade Pride, fighting back against hurled Molotov cocktails with stun grenades. Over 100 injuries were reported and almost 200 rioters were arrested.
"The ban was issued in line with the law on public gatherings which prescribes such a measure in cases of probable disruption of public transport, threats to public health or safety of people and property," Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said on Friday. Traditionally conservative societies across the Balkans have been slow to accept open homosexuality and many gay rights events in the region have ended in violence. Another government official said that Serbia's National Security Council, comprised of heads of police, security agencies, the military and President Boris Tadic, ordered police to cancel the event after security assessments indicated "extremely serious security threats." "Our intelligence indicated hooligans are poised to attack gay activists, police, media, offices of political parties, foreign businesses, embassies and burn cars," the official said.The leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church: "I would call this pestilence a parade of shame which is smearing human dignity and the holiness of life and family."