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Serbia police clash with right-wing protesters at LGBTQ march

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Police clashed against right-wing protesters Saturday as thousands of people marched in Serbia in support of EuroPride week. Each year, the event is held in a different European capital.

Two right-wing groups tried to disrupt the march by clashing with police, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated. He also said that 10 officers were lightly injured and five police cars were damaged, while 64 protesters were arrested.

Brnabic, Serbia's first openly gay prime minister, said to reporters that she was proud of the fact that they avoided more serious incidents.

The government had previously banned the march following protests from religious and nationalist groups. However, the government was forced to allow a shorter route due to calls from European Union officials as well as human rights activists.

Participants walked hundreds of metres to the Tsmajdan stadium, where they were treated to a concert.

Christopher Hill, the American ambassador to Serbia, and Vladimir Bilcik (the special rapporteur of the European Parliament for Serbia), joined the march.

Pride parades were banned by previous Serbian governments, which was criticized by human rights groups and others. In the early 2000s, some Pride marches were met with strong opposition and were marred in violence.

However, recent Pride marches in Serbia went peacefully. This change was cited by EuroPride organizers as one of the reasons Belgrade was selected as this year’s host. In 2021, Copenhagen was the host.

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Serbia is a candidate for EU membership, but must first satisfy demands for an improvement in the rule of law as well as its record on human rights and minorities.

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