Last Updated on August 28, 2022
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić announced on Saturday that a massive LBGT pride event scheduled for September will be scrapped. Vučić cited threats of violence and clashes in his decision to cancel the event, which was scheduled to be held from September 12-18 in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Event organizers have vowed to go ahead with the festival, arguing that cancellation would violate European human rights laws.
The EuroPride festival is pan-European event dedicated to LGBT people. It has been hosted by a different city just about every year since 1992 and was scheduled to be held in Belgrade from September 12-18.
During remarks on Sunday President Vučić, announced the cancellation of the event, saying his government had come under pressure from “right-wing groups” and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Vučić — whose nation has complied with European Union LGBT policies as it seeks bloc membership — stressed that he was not thrilled with the decision, but that it was not feasible given the current political climate.
“It is not a question of whether [those pressures] are stronger,” the Serbian leader said. “It’s just that at some point you can’t achieve everything, and that’s it.”
After the cancellation was announced, the European Pride Organizers Association said that any ban would be in violation of articles of the European Convention of Human Rights. “The right to hold Pride has been ruled by the European Court of Human Rights to be a fundamental human right. Any attempt to ‘ban’ a Pride is a breach of Articles 11, 13 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights, ratified by Serbia as a member of the Council of Europe,” the group said in a written statement.
“EuroPride in Belgrade will not be cancelled and will bring together thousands of LGBTI+ people from across Europe with LGBTI+ people from Serbia and the wider western Balkans. It will bring many millions of Dinar into the local economy, and allow Serbia to show that it is on the road to being a progressive, welcoming European nation. What Serbian authorities must do is stand firm against these bullies, and protect the event,” the statement continued.
A U.N. representative in Serbia also criticized Belgrade’s ban on EuroPride. “It would go against Serbia’s international human rights commitments,” Francoise Jacob, the U.N. resident coordinator in Serbia, said in a statement.
— EuroPride • EPOA (@EuroPride) August 27, 2022
The cancellation came just a week after upwards of 50,000 Serbians marched in support of family values in Belgrade last Sunday. Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Hands off our children!” and “Stop the parade of shame!” The demonstration received approval from the Serbian Orthodox Church, which has opposed the EuroPride event.
Demonstrations against the event continued over the weekend, even after it was cancelled. Clergy from the Serbian Orthodox held during a procession to mark a religious holiday on Sunday, which included thousands of marchers reiterating the same themes as last week’s demonstration.
“Save our children and family,” read one of the banners held up by protesters on Sunday, Reuters reported.
Serbia today, 100,000 people march in Belgrade to preservation traditional family, religion, identity and traditional moral values. Event censored by European media. pic.twitter.com/O4sRXGo5MD
— RadioGenova (@RadioGenova) August 28, 2022
Belgrade – in support of traditional family values pic.twitter.com/4PtHrMWGzn
— Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil (@ivan_8848) August 28, 2022
In addition to alleged threats of violence from “hooligans,” Vučić pointed to the continent-wide energy crisis, as well as Serbia’s ongoing disputes with Kosovo, as reasoning for cancelling the event. “It will happen but in some other and happier time,” he said of the EuroPride event.
Serbia is a candidate to join the E.U., but the bloc has requirements for the nation before it can join, including mending ties with Kosovo and accepting LGBT ideology.