Gay pride parade banned in Serbia

Serbian authorities on Friday banned both a gay pride parade and an anti-gay protest scheduled to take place in Belgrade this weekend, the Associated Press reports.

From the AP:

When two similar events occurred side by side in Serbia's capital last year, about 100 people were injured, cars were burned and shops were looted in clashes between police and the anti-gay, far-right extremists.

Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said the events had been banned "to avoid bloodshed," and President Boris Tadic backed the move, saying it was intended to "prevent violence and the possible loss of lives."

Reuters reports that Serbia's National Security Council ordered that the events be cancelled after security assessments indicated "extremely serious security threats."

"Our intelligence indicated hooligans are poised to attack gay activists, police, media, offices of political parties, foreign businesses, embassies and burn cars," an official told Reuters.

Organizers of the gay pride event expressed disappointment with the government.

"It is totally unbelievable that police have not clamped down against the extremists," Goran Miletic, a member of the organizing committee, told the AP. "We have spent four months preparing the gay pride march, and the authorities have done nothing."

Meanwhile, the ultranationalist Obraz group called the cancellations a "victory for the Serb patriots."