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TMCNet:  Belgrade Braces Itself For Gay Pride Parade

[October 02, 2012]

Belgrade Braces Itself For Gay Pride Parade

Oct 02, 2012 (Radio Free Europe Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- October 2, 2012 Serbia's lesbian and gay community has been garnering attention this week as Belgrade's third Pride Week gets into full swing.

Under the slogan, "Love, Faith, Hope." a number of events are being held in the Serbian capital from September 30 to October 7, and organizers hope the week's festivities will contribute to the "construction of democratic society consist[ing] of individuals equal in their rights despite their sexual orientation and gender expression." If all goes to plan, Pride Week should culminate in a colourful gay pride parade on October 6.

The city authorities could still scupper this plan, however, amid fears that the rainbow procession may spark violence in a country that is reputed to have a fair share of homophobic thugs.

Last year's gay pride parade in Belgrade was canceled a couple of days before it was due to take place because the Interior Ministry was afraid it could have resulted in "enormous damage to public order and peace." The previous year's pageant in 2010 did go ahead but was marred by violence after the procession was attacked by right-wing extremists.

There are concerns that the 2012 pride march could also be sulllied by thuggery, especially as a number of threats have been made in the run-up to the event.

Nonetheless, Pride Week's organizers are determined to press ahead with their celebrations and are hopeful that the parade can go ahead.

One positive sign could be found in the muted response to a flash mob that descended on Belgrade's main pedestrian thoroughfare on September 28 to help promote gay pride.

Participants in the happening staged a lively wedding ceremony in which two brides called Faith and Hope got "married" and kissed each other on the busy street of Knez Mihailova.

The event passed off without incident and Balkaninsight.com even reported that most passersby actually "liked the impromptu performance, although a few covered their children's eyes, when they realized what was going on." Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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