Thousands of Orthodox march in Belgrade to oppose Europride

Tension is high in Serbia around Europride. Thousands of Orthodox faithful marched Sunday evening in Belgrade to warn against the possible holding of this event, despite the decision of the authorities to cancel this large gathering of the LGBTQ community planned for September.

Carrying religious icons, crosses and flags, protesters marched through the city center praying and chanting and gathered outside Saint Sava’s Cathedral.

“The march will take place as planned”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Saturday that he had decided, in consultation with the government, that this march, organized as part of a major annual pan-European event, would be “postponed or canceled”. He explained that it was not possible to “manage everything”, at a time when Serbia is facing a “difficult crisis” in Kosovo, a former Serbian province which proclaimed its independence in 2008, never recognized by Belgrade.

But Marko Mihailovic, a coordinator of Europride scheduled in Belgrade from September 12 to 18, said: “The march will take place as planned on September 17”.

Worshipers ready to take to the streets

Speaking to the crowd on Sunday, Bishop Nikanor of the Serbian Orthodox Church hailed the decision to reverse what he called “a desecration of our country, our Church and our family.” The bishop said, according to images broadcast on the Glas Javnosti news site, that the faithful were ready to take to the streets to “put themselves in front of those who intend to destroy the values ​​of Serbia”.

The first two Belgrade Pride Marches, in 2001 and 2010, were marred by violence. The parade has been organized regularly since 2014 but with a large presence of law enforcement.

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