As Serbia has sought to join the European Union, becoming an
official candidate for membership in February, its track record on human rights
has been scrutinized, from discrimination against the Roma people to concerns it
had failed to protect independent journalists facing threats.
The fate of the pride parade, scheduled for Saturday, was
seen as another such test for the Serbian government. In a March resolution,
the European Parliament credited Serbia with convicting some of the extremists behind
attacks on gays, but was worried by a sluggish investigation and light
By canceling the march last year, Serbia seemed to lack the
political will to ensure the marchers were safe, the resolution added. If
Serbia were to join the European Union, it warned, the country would have to
respect the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of association.
Parade organizers have put forward a list of demands for the
Serbian government, including the criminalization of hate crimes and the prosecution
of extremists behind the planned riots that led Serbian authorities to ban the parade last year, after which “not one person was arrested,” they
Miletic had earlier pledged that if the parade were banned,
the organizers would still do something to mark the day, but had yet to
announce what was planned.
– Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: In this Oct. 10, 2010, file photo, Serbian riot police gather to
protect a gay pride parade as it moves along a street in Belgrade. Credit: Darko Vojinovic / Associated Press