Dozens Of Extremists Arrested At Serbia’s EuroPride Event, Parade Takes Place Under Riot Police Protection

The Guardian reports:

Serbian police arrested more than 64 people as thousands of LGBTQI+ activists turned out for Belgrade’s EuroPride march on Saturday, despite a government ban. The event had been intended as the cornerstone event of the EuroPride gathering. But the interior ministry banned the march earlier this week, citing security concerns after rightwing groups threatened to hold protests.

Although the march took place without serious incident, local media said clashes broke out between counter-demonstrators and police. The Balkan country’s prime minister, Ana Brnabić – who is openly gay – said 64 people were arrested and 10 police officers injured on Saturday, but underlined that she was “proud” that the day ended with “no major incidents”.

Deutsche Welle reports:

Riot police clashed with ultra nationalist hooligans who hurled stun grenades, stones and flares at a police cordon, which repelled the attack with batons and riot shields.

Earlier, anti-gay activists threw bottles at police officers who tried to isolate them in downtown Belgrade. Those participating in the EuroPride march walked several hundred meters to the Tsmajdan Stadium, a much shorter route than organizers had initially planned.

Originally, the parade had been planned to travel through half of Belgrade’s city center. EuroPride is the largest annual Pride event in Europe and includes a week of festivities that culminates in the march.

France 24 reports:

There was a heavy police presence around the Pride rally, with officers pushing back the small groups of counter-demonstrators waving crosses and religious insignia. “I am here to preserve Serbian traditions, faith and culture which are being destroyed by sodomites,” Andrej Bakic, 36, a counter-protester in a group surrounded by riot police told AFP on Saturday.

The Balkan country, a candidate for EU membership, had been under intense international pressure to allow the march. More than 20 embassies — including the US, France and Britain — have issued a joint statement urging the authorities to lift the ban. “We, as activists, will use our democratic right to civil disobedience and will protest,” the Belgrade Pride organisers said Saturday, after a court rejected their appeal to overturn the ban.

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In recent weeks religious and extremist groups held two massive marches against EuroPride.