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Serbian Capital Bans Gay Pride March

A rally in downtown Belgrade on September 27 sought to promote "traditional" family values ahead of the abortive Gay Pride march the next day.
Authorities in Belgrade have banned a gay pride march in the Serb capital for a third year in a row due to threats of violence by rightwing groups.

Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said top security and state officials decided to ban the September 28 event because they feared a repeat of violence in 2010, when more than 100 people were injured as extremists attacked a gay pride march in Belgrade, triggering clashes with police.

He denied giving in to hooligans.

But as night fell, around 200 gay activists waving rainbow flags and banners that read "This is Pride" gathered outside Dacic's government office before walking to parliament flanked by riot police.

"We want to show that we will walk on streets of Belgrade, yes, we will not disappear, yes, we will have Pride tonight, we will have Pride every day, all 365 days, until state authorities, but also until this society is ready to deal in a right way with the thing that we are talking about," said activist Maja Micic, who took part in the impromptu march.

The United States embassy issued a statement saying it was "very disappointed" by the ban and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said it marked "a missed opportunity to show respect for fundamental human rights."

Belgrade had been under Western pressure to allow the march to go ahead as test of Serbia's commitment to tolerance and diversity.

Serbia is due to launch EU membership talks in January.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters