A "Parade between four walls" was held in Belgrade on Saturday under tight police security and without incidents after the Serbian Interior Ministry banned members of the LGBT community from marching down the capital's streets.
The event took place at the Media Centre, which was filled to capacity. Among those in attendance were the head of the European Union Delegation to Serbia, Vincent Degert, and Swedish Minister for European Union Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson, who had announced she would come to Belgrade to attend Pride Parade. The organising committee of this year's Pride ended the event with a minute's silence, observed in protest against the parade ban. They held a banner with the numbers 28. 09. 2013., announcing the next Pride Parade for September 28, 2013.
"We hope the authorities will have enough time to enable us to make a walk of 970 steps next year," the organisers said.
Premier and Interior Minister Ivica Dacic has told Belgrade's Press daily that 80 per cent of Serbia's citizens are against the gay parade and that "there would have been bloodshed" in Belgrade had Pride not been banned. "It's better if they criticise me for banning the parade than for letting bloodshed happen, and all security estimates point to that. Even if we had deployed more than 5,000 police, there would have been riots, fighting, blood would have been spilled," he was quoted as saying, adding that Western embassies would have been attacked in the riots.
The Interior Ministry on Thursday banned the Pride Parade and all public assemblies scheduled for today. Pride organisers said they would protest with the Constitutional Court. The authorities in Belgrade banned the event last year as well. In 2010, Pride was held but ended in clashes between police and nationalist extremists and hooligans, resulting in more than 150 people injured, including 130 police.
After the Interior Ministry banned this year's Pride, all football games were postponed for tomorrow to reduce the risk from possible riots.