BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbian LGBT rights activists and pro-Western opponents of conservative President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday they will defy a ban on a gay pride march in Belgrade next month, despite resistance by far-right groups and the church.
Belgrade is due to host the EuroPride march on Sept. 17, an event staged in a different European city each year.
But Vucic said the event would be banned, citing threats of violence from right-wing and ultranationalist groups.
“The government’s decision about the ban will be respected and nobody should play with the decisions of the state,” he told reporters in Belgrade.
On Sunday, thousands of members of rightist and pro-Russian organisations and the conservative Serbian Orthodox Church rallied in Belgrade, demanding the march be banned.
But organisers, activists and a part of the parliamentary opposition said they would march anyway.
“We will definitely be going out for a walk no matter what happens,” Filip Vulovic, a member of the EuroPride organisational board, told Reuters.
Goran Miletic, a director of the Civil Rights Defenders watchdog, said march organisers had yet to receive notice of a formal ban from the police which must be delivered at least 96 hours beforehand.
He also said that four similar bans, in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013, were deemed illegal by the constitutional court.
“This is also the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, which says that if there is a threat to security, such a threat must be eliminated by adequate police work,” he told Reuters.
Serbia wants to join the European Union but has been told it must first improve the rule of law, its record on human rights, root out organised crime and corruption and mend ties with the now-independent former southern province of Kosovo.