EuroPride Defiant Despite President’s Cancellation Orders, Church Protests In Belgrade

EuroPride Defiant Despite President’s Cancellation Orders, Church Protests In Belgrade
Image: Image: Belgrade Pride

European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) is insisting that EuroPride in Belgrade is not cancelled despite nationalists joining church protests and Serbian President Vučić announcing the cancellation.

Three years ago, EPOA had chosen Belgrade as the host for the annual event for 2022. Vučić cancelled the event on the grounds of tensions in Kosovo, along with economic issues within the country.

President of EPOA, Kristine Garina has stated that the event would have the opposite effect, boosting the economy.

“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,” Garina said.

“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 bullies she refers to are the right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ Serbians whose numbers have grown and have become vocal about their opposition to the pride event.

Thousands Protest Against EuroPride

On August 28, thousands of right-wing extremists joined Orthodox Christians in their march in Belgrade protest EuroPride. The protesters carried images of Russian President Vladimir Putin and World War II Serbian leader, General Dragoljub Draza Mihailovic.

They also carried religious flags and crosses whilst praying and chanting before finally gathering outside of the cathedral of Saint Sava. Serbian Orthodox Bishop Nikanor addressed the crowd, citing that the faithful were ready and waiting to take to the streets to “put themselves before those who intend to destroy the values of Serbia.”

Nikanor also praised the government’s decision to cancel “the desecration of our country, our Church and our family.”

Earlier this month, Nikanor had also encouraged armed attacks on EuroPride and “cursed” all who would participate in the event.

“I will curse all those who organise and participate in something like that,” Nikanor said. “I can do that much. If I had a weapon, I would use it, I would use that force if only I had it, but I do not.”

President Buckled Under Government Pressure

Vučić himself acknowledged that the cancellation is the wrong move but claimed that the country would not be able to handle attacks on the event by right-wing extremists.

“This is a violation of minority rights, but at this moment the state is pressured by numerous problems,” Vučić said.

“It’s not the question of whether they (extremists) are stronger, but you just can’t do it all at the same moment, and that’s it. I am not happy about it but we can’t manage.”

Vučić also said that Nikanor’s insults have been directed not only at the LGBTQI community but to the country’s first out lesbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić.

“Bishop Nicanor insulted himself and our church, humiliated our church, much more than Ana Brnabić or anyone else ever did,” he said.

LGBTQ+ Organisations Condemn Vučić’s Decision

Other LGBTQ+ organisations have come out in support of EPOA, with ILGA-Europe issuing a statement that “strongly condemns President Vučić of Serbia’s cancellation of EuroPride.”

“Equality, justice and freedom are not matters that can be put aside when political and economic problems rise,” ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director, Evelyne Paradis said.

“On the contrary, they are cornerstones of building free, democratic and prosperous societies, which should therefore be a priority at all times for any government.”

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One response to “EuroPride Defiant Despite President’s Cancellation Orders, Church Protests In Belgrade”

  1. Vučić and Nikanor playing good cop/bad cop over this. For right-wing politicians like Vučić, there will always be a reason why Serbia can’t hold such an event. Convenient for him that the Bigot in charge of the Serbian Orthodox Church cops most of the criticism this time.