Organisers of the EuroPride march are being forced to find an alternative route after Serbian police officially banned the original route following mass anti-LGBTQ+ protests.
EuroPride, which is hosted in a different European city each year, was due to take place in Belgrade on Saturday, the 17th of September, as part of Serbia’s bid for membership to the European Union.
However, since announcing plans to host the event, religious and anti-LGBTQ+ groups have organised widespread protests against the inclusive event, resulting in the Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić saying the event would be postponed or cancelled due to “security concerns.”
Just weeks after the Serbian president’s comments, Serbian police have now officially announced a ban on the route of the EuroPride march.
In response to the move made by police, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights released a statement condemning the postponement of events and urging the government to maintain its promise of EuroPride.
“We regret the decision taken by the Serbian police to ban the route of the EuroPride march, LGBTI Intergroup co-chair Terry Reintke MEP (Greens-EFA) said.
“We have been in constant contact in the last weeks with the Serbian authorities calling for political willingness in finding a solution that ensures all demonstrators’ security.
“We insist that all efforts must be employed to find a compromise solution,” Reintke added.
Fellow co-chair of the LGBTI Intergroup Marc Angel MEP (S&D Group) also hit back at the decision saying, “We have urged authorities to liaise, to negotiate and to agree on a compromise, which to this point was clear – a shorter, secure route, enshrining the principles of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
“We repeat – these rights must be ensured for those defending them, and we maintain trust that a solution will be found. We urge authorities to put all focus on a credible solution to be proposed to the organisers.”
The postponement is the latest in the many roadblocks that Serbia has faced in their bid to join the EU – something that they have been trying to achieve since 2009.