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Religious Nationalists March in Serbia to Protest EuroPride

Religious Nationalists March in Serbia to Protest EuroPride

As Europe's largest Pride celebration approaches, members of the far right in Serbia marched Sunday to protest the event.

EuroPride, a week-long celebration in September, is the largest LGBTQ+ Pride parade on the continent. The event is hosted by a different European city every year, with this year's host being Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

According to Euronews, the EuroPride march was scheduled for September 17, but Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, has since announced the event will be "postponed or cancellled." Vučić cited disputes with neighboring state, Kosovo, over new documentation that would affect Serbians attempting to enter the territory.

While Vučić cited the "crisis" in Kosovo as the primary reason behind his choice, conservative groups in the country have heavily swayed his decision. On Sunday, thousands of religious opponents marched in Belgrade to protest the pride event.

The protest was led by clergy from the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as the Serbian section of "Night Wolves," a Russian extremist group who adamantly support Vladimir Putin. Marchers held crucifixes and Russian flags, donning signs with sayings such as, "Save our children and family."

Despite the protests and Vučić's announcement, the European Pride Organisers Association, which owns the license to EuroPride, vowed that the event would go on with or without government support. EPOA President, Kristine Garina, explained in a statement Saturday that Vučić has no legal right to cancel the celebration.

“The right to hold Pride has been ruled by the European Court of Human Rights to be a fundamental human right. Any attempt to ‘ban’ a Pride is a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights, ratified by Serbia as a member of the Council of Europe," she said. "EuroPride is not cancelled, and will not be cancelled. During the bidding process for EuroPride 2022, Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic promised the full support of the Serbian government for EuroPride in Belgrade, and we expect that promise to be honored."

The EPOA released a statement alongside a Tweet confirming that EuroPride will continue as scheduled, as the only authority with the ability to stop it is their organization. They also called out the protesters in Belgrade for their message, writing,

"Those opposing EuroPride in Belgrade are using tired old tropes, inaccuracies and downright lies to discredit what is, in fact, a celebration of human rights and equality."

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