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Serb Gay Parade Called Off Due To Lack Of Security Assurances

BELGRADE (Reuters) -- Gay and human rights activists in Serbia have called off their September 20 Pride Parade after being urged to move venues for safety reasons, organizers said.

The announcement followed a meeting with Prime Minister Mirko Cvektovic, who presented them with a written police recommendation to move the planned march to another location, traditionally used for big music events.

Ultranationalist groups and hooligans had threatened to attack the march.

"We were told in the meeting with Prime Minister Cvetkovic that the gathering is impossible for security reasons and that we should choose another location," said Dragana Vuckovic, member of the Pride Parade organizing team.

"Taking the Pride Parade to another location is simply not acceptable," Vuckovic said. "Pride parades are traditionally organized in the main streets of big cities and the message is that groups kept on the fringes of a society need to be integrated."

Serbian President Boris Tadic had promised on September 18 to protect hundreds of gay and human rights activists at the planned gay pride parade.

The only public event staged by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists in Serbia was in 2001 and ended in clashes, with dozens of gay activists and policemen injured by nationalists, neo-Nazis, and soccer hooligans.