Serbia: President Aleksandar Vucic cancels Europride scheduled for September, organizers challenge decision

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Saturday August 27 the cancellation of the Europride scheduled for September in Belgrade (Serbia), but its organizers immediately challenged this decision, saying that this large gathering of LGBT communities would take place as planned. “In agreement with the majority of the government and with the Prime Minister (…) the pride parade, or whatever it is called, will be postponed or canceled, as you wish”said Aleksandar Vucic at a press conference.

“Simply, at one time, you can’t manage everything. Another time, in happier times”added the president, explaining that Serbia was “under pressure”faced with “all kinds of problems”. Aleksandar Vucic notably mentioned a new rise in tensions in Kosovo, a former Serbian province, mainly Albanian, which proclaimed its independence in 2008, never recognized by Belgrade. He also mentioned issues related to energy and food.

“The march will take place as planned”

Aleksandar Vucic announced the decision minutes after tasking outgoing Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, the first openly lesbian Serbian politician, with forming a new government, nearly five months after elections in early April. The government, for its part, explained that the conditions were not met for a “safe process” of Europride. “Some extremist groups could take advantage and abuse of this event and Serbia’s willingness to organize it to further inflame tensions and steer Serbia towards instability”we read in a press release.

Europride organizers – large annual pan-European event organized every year since 1992 in a different city on the continent – immediately affirmed that the event would take place as planned, pointing out that several court decisions had established that other cancellations in the past had been unconstitutional. “The state cannot cancel Europride – it can only try to ban it, which would be a clear violation of the Constitution”tweeted protest coordinator Marko Mihailovic. “The march will take place as planned on September 17”he said.

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