Despite weeks of far-right protests,
thousands of people marched Saturday for greater LGBTQ rights in the
Serbian capital of Belgrade.
EuroPride, one of the world's largest
LGBTQ Pride events, is hosted by a different European city each year.
Following weeks of demonstrations calling for the event's
cancellation, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced in August
that Serbia would not host EuroPride 2022. Vucic told reporters
during a press conference that his government had been under intense
pressure to cancel the event.
According to POLITICO,
the government gave the go-ahead for the parade just hours before
marchers took to the streets.
Kristine Garina, president of
EuroPride, called this week's event the “most important”
EuroPride held in 30 years.
“The banning and un-banning of the
Pride, the terrible opposition it has faced from the government and
ministries and political parties in the last few days makes its
importance clear,” she said.
At least two dozen European politicians
attended the parade.
POLITICO reported that 5,200 mostly
police officers were on the scene to keep protesters from disrupting
the parade. More than 60 people were arrested in clashes with the
police, and ten officers were injured.
“We always knew it would be
difficult, but what we witnessed goes beyond the level we expected,”
Garina said. “This was the first time we faced such intense
conspiracy theories and opposition.”
Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric remains high in
Serbia. Violence has broken out at previous Pride events, most
notably in 2010 when nearly 100 people – mostly police – were
injured in the fighting.