Pride march pits LGBTQ, Orthodox Serbians

BELGRADE, Serbia (AFP) — Thousands of Orthodox Christians marched in Belgrade Sunday to warn against holding EuroPride, despite the Serbian authorities’ decision to cancel the pan-European gathering of the LGBTQ community next month.

Carrying icons, crosses and religious flags, protesters marched through the city center while praying and chanting before gathering outside the cathedral of St. Sava.

President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday announced that he had decided, in consultation with the government, that the pride parade would be “postponed or cancelled.”

Vucic said it was not possible to “handle everything” at a time when Serbia was “pressured with all kinds of problems,” underlining recent tensions with former province Kosovo and concerns over energy and food.

“Pride will go ahead as planned on September 17,” Belgrade Pride coordinator Marko Mihailovic said.

Addressing the crowd on Sunday, Serbian Orthodox Bishop Nikanor hailed the authorities’ decision to reverse “the desecration of our country, our Church and our family.”

Bishop Nikanor said the faithful were ready to take to the streets again to “put themselves before those who intend to destroy the values of Serbia.”

The first two Belgrade Pride marches in 2001 and 2010 were marred by violence. The parade has been organized regularly since 2014 under tight security.

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