The banning of Belgrade Gay Pride may damage Serbia’s chance of entry into the European Union, according to EU officials.
The event was stopped in the Eastern European country, which was due to take place tomorrow (6 October), for fear of riots and threats of violence from right-wing thugs.
Dutch Member of European Parliament Marije Cornelissen said: ‘[Serbia is] either not willing to protect vulnerable citizens and freedom of assembly, or they’re not capable. Both are damning.’
Cornelissen, who is in Serbia investigating the ban, added she was going to recommend to the Commission that they should now allow for Serbian accession talks to begin.
‘It’s clear that there are hooligan groups [in Serbia] that are not afraid to use violence. The government needs to take action. If they can’t then they do not comply, in my opinion.’
Stefan Fule, the EU’s enlargement commissioner, regretted that threats from extremist organizations had been assessed serious enough to justify a ban.
Fule will be travelling to the Serbian capital to meet with the government next week, but his spokesman said he would not discussing the Belgrade Pride ban.
He told Reuters while equal rights is one of the ‘core foundations of the European project, it’s just one element and there are more important issues’ to be discussed.
Prime Minister Ivica Dacic has also defended the decision to ban the pride parade, by saying: ‘The last thing Serbia now needs are riots and casualties, hence all conditions for the ban have been met.’
However international gay rights groups have blasted the decision, with Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia director John Dalhuisen describing it as a ‘victory for prejudice’.
He said: ‘By banning the 2012 Belgrade pride, Serbia’s government is effectively going against its own legal and constitutional protections for basic rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Serbia.’
Authorities banned gay pride events in 2009 and 2011, claiming they were worried about public safety.
Anti-gay rioters at 2010 pride injured hundreds of marchers and caused more than €1 million (£800k, $1.3m) property damage.