Serbia’s queer community showed resilience and defiance by marching in Belgrade’s Pride, despite opposition from religious groups and the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ president, Aleksandar Vučić, who has refused to support the community.

On Saturday, 9 September, hundreds of LGBTQ+ activists gathered in the Serbian capital, spreading queer joy despite a heavy police presence in riot gear blocking central Belgrade.

Despite anti-LGBTQ+ messages from the conservative leadership, religious bodies, and religious groups, participants proudly displayed Pride flags and pro-LGBTQ+ banners. Banners included statements such as “we are not even close,” referencing unfulfilled government promises, “marriage,” and “queer liberation to rainbow capitalism.”


Opposing the Pride march, around 50 anti-LGBTQ+ protestors and Orthodox priests displayed religious icons in front of a church. At the same time, another group held a banner on the main downtown street reading, “I don’t want a gay parade in Belgrade.” Many Serbians are members of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the country does not recognise same-sex marriage or civil partnerships, prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children.

Last year’s Pride event witnessed clashes between police and anti-LGBTQ+ groups demanding the event be banned, arguing it contradicts their Serbian Christian Orthodox values. Although President Vučić threatened to postpone or ban the 2022 march, it proceeded, attracting thousands of LGBTQ+ activists and allies.

The 11th consecutive Pride in Serbia followed Vučić’s declaration that he would not approve any law allowing same-sex marriage or partnerships as long as he remains in power. Although Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s first female and openly gay prime minister, assumed office on 29 June 2017, she has rarely advocated for LGBTQ+ rights in the country.

Serbia, vying to join the European Union since submitting an official application in 2009, faces significant barriers due to its shaky human rights history and alignment with Russia’s anti-Western policies, including the lack of LGBTQ+ rights. In January 2023, Vučić expressed pessimism about Serbia joining the European Union anytime soon, as reported by Politico.