BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s Interior Ministry announced Wednesday that it has ordered banned a gay pride march in Belgrade that was scheduled for this weekend, citing security concerns.
Authorities said they fear a repeat of the violence in 2010, when right-wing groups attacked such an event in Belgrade, triggering day-long clashes with the police that left more than 100 people injured.
An unnamed source within the ministry also confirmed that a request from Patriarch Irinej, the head of Serbia’s Christian Orthodox church factored into the decision.
Irinej, had urged the government to prevent Saturday’s march released a statement earlier this week in which he said that such a “parade of shame” would cast a “moral shadow” on Serbia. The country is deeply conservative and its small LGBT population has faced threats and harassment.
Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said Monday that as many as 5,000 security personnel including anti-riot units, plainclothes agents and mounted police would be needed to ensure security around the parade.
European LGBT equality rights activists denounced the government’s announcement noting that Serbia’s bid to join the European Union should be turned down as the Balkan nation is failing to respect basic human rights as it seeks European Union membership.